‘No reason’ for holiday ceasefire, says CPP
MANILA, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Monday said its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), would not observe a ceasefire with government troops this holiday season.
In the past, the military and the NPA would both announce a ceasefire at this time of any given year—even as there were still reported encounters, with both sides accusing each other of violating the truce.
The CPP’s central committee said there was “absolutely no reason” this time to declare a ceasefire, since the “regime” of the United States and President Marcos “and its fascist Armed Forces of the Philippines continue[d] with their relentless state terrorism and armed suppression [of] the Filipino people.”
“The NPA can concentrate [on] a superior force in order to strike the fascist units of the AFP and PNP (Philippine National Police) which are isolated, weak and tired, as a form of punishment for their crimes against the people,” CPP’s public information officer Marco Valbuena said in a statement.
The military and the police said they were ready to thwart any attacks—which they usually anticipate when the rebels commemorate the CPP’s founding anniversary on Dec. 26, 1968, and that of the NPA on March 29, 1969.
The CPP announced a 10-day mourning period two days after the death of its founder, Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, on Friday.
During that period of mourning, the NPA can still launch “tactical offensives” against government forces, the party said.
Sison died of an undisclosed illness after two weeks at a hospital in Utrecht, the Netherlands, where he had been in self-imposed exile since 1987. He was 83.
A source said on Sunday that he would be cremated on Dec. 27 at the Crematorium Daelwijck in Utrecht.
At Monday’s Laging Handa briefing, AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said he saw a leadership void in the communist rebellion with Sison gone.
“I think the problem is within the organization to find a new leader,” Aguilar said.
“None of the remaining leaders — because many of them have been already neutralized—are of the same quality as Sison. So that’s a big problem [for] the underground organization,” he added.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada agreed that Sison’s passing “may further weaken” the rebellion.
“The government must take this opportunity to intensify the collaboration of different agencies, stakeholders, local government units, and even the general public in crushing the communist idea that drives the armed struggle,” said Estrada, who heads the Senate committee on national defense and security, peace, unification and reconciliation.
But former Sen. Panfilo Lacson cautioned the government against regarding Sison’s death as a serious blow to the insurgency.
He said the rebels would engage in “enhanced posturing” by stepping up its armed operations to “project strength and stability.”
“In fact, the military and police forces, especially the intelligence community, cannot afford to lower their guard,” said Lacson, a former PNP chief.
Other lawmakers urged the government to continue pursuing peace talks with the rebels.
“We should all work for a fairer and more just Philippine society. This struggle continues. No need for ideological labels,” Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said the government should set the conditions for the resumption of talks if it truly wanted peace.
“This will open opportunities for the discussion of the social and economic reforms centered on genuine land reform and the establishment of national industries,” Brosas said.