No holiday truce with NPA–Lorenzana
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday rejected any suspension of military operations (Somo) against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its military arm, the New People’s Army (NPA), despite the insurgents’ offer of a holiday ceasefire.
CPP founder Jose Maria Sison on Tuesday said the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating panel had received an “advance notice from the CPP” saying it would order the NPA to observe a unilateral ceasefire.
Solidarity with Filipinos
The truce order is meant to manifest solidarity with the Filipino people’s celebration of the Yuletide season and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the CPP on Dec. 26, Sison said.
In a statement issued from his base in Utrecht, the Netherlands, Sison said the insurgents’ temporary unilateral ceasefire “demonstrates the high morale and self-confidence of the revolutionary forces and people in their all-round strength.”
But in a message to reporters, Lorenzana said the military “objected to a Somo” and “shall not allow the CPP to use a Somo to celebrate (its) 50th anniversary.”
First time for AFP
This is the first time that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is not even contemplating a cessation of hostilities with the CPP and NPA for the holidays.
“We see that in the past, (the CPP-NPA) has not been sincere with any suspension of military operations. They continue with their terroristic and criminal activities, extortion, (and) harassment… We do not want to give them the opportunity to gather and mass up to joyfully celebrate their 50th anniversary,” AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said at a press conference.
“Experience told us, experience showed us that (a Somo) is not worth it,” he added.
But even as he offered a holiday truce, Sison warned that NPA rebels were ready to thwart possible attacks from its enemies during the projected truce.
Sison said President Rodrigo Duterte had made several unacceptable preconditions to continue peace negotiations, among them “the surrender of the NPA, the laying aside of the people’s demand for social, economic and political reforms, and the self-destruction of the revolutionary movement.”
The President terminated peace talks with the NDFP in November last year and shortly after, declared the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations.
The NDFP is the umbrella group of all communist-led underground organizations that has been conducting on-and-off peace talks with the government since 1986.
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