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No holiday ceasefire with Reds

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
No holiday ceasefire with Reds
National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año made this clear yesterday following the historic signing of a joint statement dated Nov. 23 in Oslo, Norway where both parties agreed to a “principled and peaceful resolution” of the country’s decades-old insurgency problem.
STAR / Michael Varcas / File

MANILA, Philippines — There will be no holiday ceasefire with the New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) will continue its military and non-military operations against communist rebels despite an agreement between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) for peace talks to resume.

National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año made this clear yesterday following the historic signing of a joint statement dated Nov. 23 in Oslo, Norway where both parties agreed to a “principled and peaceful resolution” of the country’s decades-old insurgency problem.

While fresh peace negotiations are a welcome development, he said he is not in favor of a suspension of military operations (SOMO) or a ceasefire during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

“I don’t recommend SOMO, I don’t recommend any ceasefire,” Año told reporters, noting that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the NPA, also continue their anti-government operations during the holidays.

“Why do you have to recommend that if we know that the CPP-NPA, particularly the NPA, engage in violent activities, so we are aiming for an objective, the Armed Forces of the Philippines especially, so let’s give the AFP the chance and the opportunity to accomplish their objective,” he said in English and Filipino.

The NTF-ELCAC, according to the NSA, will continue its activities, including military operations and law enforcement, as well as deliver services and bring development projects to far-flung areas under the whole-of-nation approach with no changes despite the possible resumption of peace talks.

Año noted that the NDF’s demand or request that the CPP-NPA’s terror tag be removed is premature since that will require a process and it will have to be clear first that they want to abandon the armed struggle.

“It cannot be removed just like that, of course, in peace settlement, they should really agree to abandon the armed struggle. Everything will follow, like the removal of the (terrorist) designation. But if we still don’t have a final peace settlement, it’s difficult to deal with that. It cannot be granted in haste, there should be a process, so our stand about this is, they should be already willing to abandon the armed struggle,” he said.

AFP welcomes talks

The AFP yesterday welcomed the exploratory talks being pursued by the country’s political leadership in ending the armed struggle.

“This initiative will save precious lives, especially those of members of the NPA, along with the recent Amnesty Proclamation of the President, all for the purposes of uniting the Filipino people behind a common cause,” the AFP said in a statement.

“The willingness of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to pursue peaceful means of effecting societal reforms, other than armed struggle, is also a welcome development. We expect that all members of the underground movement will follow its lead,” it added.

The military, however, noted that it would continue in its campaign to defeat all armed threats to the security of the people and the state, including the NPA.

In another development, a progressive party-list lawmaker at the House of Representatives was accused of being a communist during a Senate hearing yesterday on the purported communist recruitment at schools.

In a statement yesterday, Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel denied the accusations hurled against him by alleged former rebels Arian Jane Ramos and Kate Raca, who testified at the Senate public order committee hearing presided by Sen. Ronald dela Rosa.

Manuel said Dela Rosa wasted government resources for having a “red-tagging” spree during a public hearing to retaliate on the critics of the previous administration’s war on drugs, which Dela Rosa led when he was police chief.

The militant youth party-list said Dela Rosa’s actions were “not befitting a senator.” — Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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