CPP cuts short holiday truce

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01:53 PM January 2nd, 2013

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By: Frances Mangosing, January 2nd, 2013 01:53 PM

New People’s Army rebels have their faces painted to hide their identity during the celebration of the 42nd anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) called off a holiday truce with the government two weeks ahead of schedule, saying the Aquino administration reneged on the ceasefire deal.

The traditional truce would end before midnight at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, the CPP said in a statement.

Luis Jalandoni, peace panel chair of the National Democratic Front, earlier said the government and the communist rebels had agreed to the ceasefire lasting from December 20 to January when they held their first high-level peace talks in mid-December.

“The (communist New People’s Army) and the people’s militias should immediately assume an offensive posture and confront and frustrate the enemy campaigns of suppression,” the statement said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines declared its suspension of military operations from December 16 until 1 a.m. of January 3.

But the CPP said it was agreed during a meeting in The Hague by representatives of the government and the NDF that the truce would run until January 15.

The holiday ceasefire would help create a favorable condition for the resumption of peace talks, the rebels said.

“In failing to reciprocate the ceasefire declaration of the revolutionary forces, the sincerity of the Aquino regime to pursue and boost NDFP-GPH peace negotiations has been put under serious question,” the CPP said.

However, Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the government would observe the ceasefire until January 15.

He said the rebels had found an extended ceasefire to be “detrimental” to them so they chose to cut it short and blame the government.

“The CPP-NPA has always been making excuses… and now they’re coming up with other stumbling blocks to peace,” Lacierda told reporters.

Southern Philippine military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paniza said Wednesday the CPP had already violated the ceasefire.

He said communist gunmen descended on the outskirts of the southern city of Davao on Monday and Tuesday, briefly holding two government militiamen and three civilians to intimidate them.

The CPP pulled out of peace talks in November 2011 after the government rejected rebel demands to free jailed comrades whom they claimed were consultants to the negotiations.

The Maoist rebels have been waging an armed rebellion to seize power since 1969 and more than 30,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the government.

The military estimates the current NPA strength at about 4,000 fighters, significantly down from more than 26,000 at its peak in the late 1980s. With Agence France-Presse

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