AFP wonât recommend holiday truce with Reds
This photo taken on July 30, 2017 shows guerrillas of the New People's Army in formation in the Sierra Madre mountain range, located east of Manila.
AFP/Noel Celis

AFP won’t recommend holiday truce with Reds

(Philstar.com) - December 3, 2020 - 10:42am

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines will not be recommending that President Rodrigo Duterte declare a holiday truce with communist rebels, saying the rebels have shown insincerity and unfaithfulness to previous ceasefire declarations.

Historically, both sides have declared unilateral ceasefires, where they halt offensive operations over the Christmas holidays. Both have also accused the other of conducting operations despite the supposed ceasefire. 

"During the incumbency of a truce, these terrorists continued their extortion activities and committed crimes of murder, arson, and the likes," Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said in a statement on Thursday.

Arevalo also accused communist rebels of attacking soldiers who were on humanitarian and peace and development missions during previous truces. Communist rebels have likewise accused government troops of violating ceasefires.

“With these many hard lessons of the past, we will not allow them to trample upon our people’s bona fide desire for peace — not this holiday season — not until we have decisively defeated this menace to society,” Arevalo said.

The AFP, however, is leaving the final decision on whether or not to have a holiday truce with Reds to Duterte, saying that it will support whatever his decision may be.

Pandemic ceasefire

The government last declared a ceasefire with communist rebels at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, citing the need to focus government resources on beating the disease. Communist rebels reciprocated the truce, heeding the call of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres for a global ceasefire amid the pandemic.

The truce, which was once again marred by accusations from both camps of violations, ended in April.

Last year, the military and the defense department also said that they would not be recommending a holiday ceasefire, but Duterte went ahead and declared one and even ordered the reconvening of the government peace panel that negotiates with communist rebels.

In 2017, Duterte terminated the peace negotiations with the communists after the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the rebels, launched successive attacks against government forces.

Duterte changed his tone in November 2019 and said that he is sending Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to the Netherlands to talk to Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria Sison, which he described as his “last card” to finish the five decade-conflict with the rebels.

But Duterte has since amped up his verbal attacks against communist rebels, using his weekly address to the nation on the coronavirus pandemic to strike at them. — Xave Gregorio with reports from Kristine Joy Patag and Alexis Romero/The STAR

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES NEW PEOPLE'S ARMY
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