Military to halt operations vs NPA Wednesday for UN Peace Day
MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces Philippines on Tuesday declared a suspension of Offensive Military Operations against the New People’s Army in support of the United Nation’s commemoration of the International Peace Day on September 21.
In a text message to reporters, AFP spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Burgos said that Chief of Staff General Eduardo Oban Jr. signed and issued the Operational Guidelines for the conduct of SOMO to all Unified and Major Service Commanders of the military last September 18.
The SOMO was effective midnight of September 20 and will end midnight of September 21, Burgos said.
“The AFP shall continue to secure and protect the populace against violence and atrocities and perform functions in support to the PNP and other law enforcement agencies,” Burgos said.
In a separate press briefing, AFP spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Burgos said that this would be the first time that the military has declared a 24-hour SOMO in relation to the UN’s International Peace Day on September 21. Burgos said that the SOMO only covered deliberate offensive operations against the NPA. However, security operations like patrols, troop movement and delivery of logistics and supplies would still continue. Likewise, civil military operations conducted by soldiers in remote areas would continue during the short SOMO, Burgos said.
“This will not preclude inherent rights of protecting people and state and unit individual self defense. We will still thwart atrocity and violent attack conducted by any group,” Burgos said.
He also said that the 24-hour SOMO would be part of the military’s confidence building measures to show the government’s sincerity in the ongoing peace negotiations with the NPA’s central leadership.
He added that NPA rebels should take advantage of the SOMO, not to regroup, but to visit their relatives.
“We are giving them the chance of a lifetime to live peacefully under a democratic government so they should take advantage of this opportunity to visit their loved ones,” Burgos said in Filipino.
However, those NPA rebels with standing warrants of arrest for criminal charges would not be covered by the SOMO, Burgos said, adding that the Philippine National Police has jurisdiction over the serving of warrants and arresting criminals. Burgos added that the military would be ready to assist the PNP if they requested for support in arresting NPAs with standing warrants.
With a report from Donna Pazzibugan, Inquirer
Originally posted at 12:58 p.m.