LUCENA CITY – Government forces continue to conduct offensive military operations against communist New People’s Army rebels despite the 26-day ceasefire declared by President Benigno Aquino III, according to the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“Despite the supposed ceasefire declared by Malacañang, AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) operations continue to be carried out unabated committing widespread abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law,” the CPP said in a statement issued Tuesday.
Citing field reports from different NPA units, the CPP claimed that state military forces continued to carry-out operations in the guerrilla zones in Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, other parts of Mindanao, as well as in the “Yolanda”-devastated areas of Samar, Leyte, Negros, and in Sorsogon, Benguet and other towns of Luzon.
The CPP repeated its call to AFP leadership to pull-out its troops from their so-called guerrilla base areas and stop the military offensive operations in order to allow the free movement of communist allies and sympathizers who will attend the celebration of the party’s 45 founding anniversary on December 26.
“These (assemblies and celebrations) will mostly be held in areas which are under the jurisdiction and authority of the organs of the people’s democratic government,” the party said.
The CPP said they expected the attendance of several thousand visitors from the cities, including students, workers, urban poor, doctors and professionals, government employees and jeepney drivers.
The party said they also invited foreign friends and governments to join and observe the assemblies.
“Units of the NPA will join the assemblies and secure the venues in coordination with local units of the people’s militia,” said the CPP.
The party said the assemblies will serve as an occasion “for the Filipino people to celebrate the concrete victories which they have achieved through 45 years of revolutionary struggle”.
The CPP said the revolutionary forces and guests would be celebrating advances in the political, economic, cultural and military fields, as well as in the provision of educational and medical services to the people.
The party said the assemblies would also serve as an opportunity to generate and collect funds and other material support for rehabilitation efforts in the Yolanda areas.
“Among those to be collected and distributed are seeds for vegetables and fruit trees, as well as tree seedlings for reforestation,” the CPP said.
Last Wednesday, the CPP declared that the New People’s Army rebels would observe a unilateral ceasefire from December 24 to 26 and again from December 31 to January 2.
The CPP said the truce was in keeping with the Filipino people’s traditional observance of Christmas and to pave the way for the party’s 45th anniversary celebration on December 26.
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista belittled the rebel’s six-day unilateral Christmas truce and called it as “too short” period.
The top military official said the communist rebels should have instead declared a perpetual cessation of armed struggle for the benefit of the Filipino people.
On Friday, President Benigno Aquino declared a 26-day ceasefire with communist rebels starting at midnight of December 20 and lasting until January 15, 2014.
But in an interview conducted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer among foot soldiers, the annual ceasefire by both parties is a “welcome respite”.
“We prefer a long ceasefire period from the NPA. But even if it is only four or six days, it is still a welcome respite from this war,” an Army soldier said.
His companion said he would take the opportunity to visit his family in Iloilo. “They are safe and okay except from some minor house damage which I will immediately repair once I’m home,” the soldier.
Both soldiers are assigned in Quezon near the Bicol boundary. They did not give their names because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The NPA, the CPP’s armed wing, has been waging Maoist-inspired protracted war against the government for the past 44 years, considered as the world’s longest-running communist rebellion.
Aquino calls 26-day truce