After attacks, NPA ending ceasefire — rebel official
The New People’s Army is terminating its unilateral ceasefire with the government but will continue to support the peace process, a rebel official said Wednesday.
The termination will take effect at 11:59 p.m. on February 10, and the government peace panel will also be given notice, NPA spokesperson Ka Oris said in a statement on Wednesday.
The statement of Ka Oris contradicted the one made by Fidel Agcaoili, chief peace negotiator of the National Democratic Front (NDF). Also on Wednesday, Agcaoili said they were ordering the NPA to go on “active defense” but added that they were not withdrawing the unilateral ceasefire.
“From today until the expiration of the ceasefire declaration, all commands and units of the NPA, including the people’s militia and self-defense corps, are tasked to take initiative and more vigorously carry out active defense in order to defend the people and revolutionary forces,” Ka Oris said.
The NPA declared a unilateral ceasefire on August 28, 2016, in response to the administration’s indefinite unilateral ceasefire and the resumption of peace talks between the government and the NDF.
Despite the termination of the ceasefire, Ka Oris said they would continue to support the ongoing negotiations between the government and the NDF.
“In our experience and in the experience of other peoples, it is possible to negotiate while fighting until the substantive agreements are forged to address the roots of the armed conflict and lay the basis for a just and lasting peace,” he said.
Ka Oris cited that the military’s presence in their areas of operation and the delayed release of political prisoners as the reasons for ending the ceasefire.
The release of the political prisoners was supposed to be part of the confidence-building measures in the talks.
President Rodrigo Duterte has released top leaders and officials of the rebel movement, including those whom the NDF identified as part of their negotiating team. But he withheld the release of the remaining prisoners pending the signing of a bilateral ceasefire.
The declaration of the termination came amid military reports of incidents related to the NPA since Sunday. The incidents included:
- The abduction of Pfc. Erwin Salan of the 30th Infantry Battalion in Alegria, Surigao del Norte on Jan. 29
- The wounding of three soldiers of the 75th and 30th Infantry Battalion after members of Guerrilla Front 16 led by Pablo Logatiman opened fire at government troops in Mat-i, Surigao City on Jan. 30
- The harassment on militiamen under the 72nd and 73rd Infantry Battalion guarding a road rehabilitation project in Sitio Banlibato, Barangay, Pag-asa, Alabel, Sarangani, past 2 p.m. on Jan. 30
- The burning of a passenger van along the Gensan-Maitum route in Purok Mirasol in Barangay, Lebe, Kiamba, Sarangani, past 6 p.m. on Jan. 30
- About 10 armed men believed to be NPA held security guards at gunpoint in Musahamat Plantation and took away a shotgun, a caliber 38 pistol, keys to a backhoe and a dump truck and mobile phones
- Three more attacks allegedly by the NPA in San Isidro, Mahayahay, and Hinambangan, Kitcharao, Agusan Del Norte, against soldiers deployed in these areas past midnight of Jan. 30
- Two soldiers killed in Isabela
While the peace talks were ongoing in Rome last week, soldiers and NPA rebels figured in a firefight in Makilala, North Cotabato, which left one rebel dead. It was the first encounter that broke the unilateral ceasefire declared by both parties last August.
The peace panels have failed to come up with a bilateral ceasefire declaration in recent negotiations. They aim to complete an agreement in the next round of talks later this month. CBB