NPA declares 12-day Yuletide ceasefire
LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines – The New People’s Army (NPA) across the country will observe a 12-day holiday ceasefire with government forces, according to a statement of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Tuesday.
In an email statement, the CPP Central Committee has declared that all NPA units and their militias will observe a ceasefire from December 23, 2015 to January 3, 2016 in solidarity with the traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year of the Filipinos.
The CPP declaration was authenticated by Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace negotiating panel, based in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
However, the CPP urged the NPA rebels to maintain its vigilance against any “hostile actions or movements” of the government forces inside their so-called territories including “surveillance and other offensive operations including so-called peace and development, civil-military or peace and order operations.”
The ceasefire order will also allow local communists and their allies to join mass celebrations to mark the 47th anniversary of the CPP on December 26, according to the CPP Central Committee statement.
After an ideological split with a 1930s era pro-Soviet communist party that was defeated by the military in the 1950s, former University of the Philippines professor Jose Maria Sison set up on Dec. 26, 1968, the revitalized CPP with a Maoist-oriented ideology.
Four months later, the new CPP established the NPA in a remote village in Central Luzon. The first ragtag guerrilla unit was armed with automatic rifles, single-shot rifles and handguns.
The CPP said the ceasefire order was also issued in support of the efforts of peace advocates for the resumption of the on-and-off peace negotiations with the government.
During the ceasefire period, all communist rebels shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military operations against any members of the state security forces, according to the CPP.
The CPP has stated that any members of the military and police “who have no serious liabilities other than their membership in their armed units” will not be arrested or subjected to punitive actions.
“They may be allowed individually to enter the territory of the people’s democratic government to make personal visits to relatives and friends,” the CPP said.
Last year, the communist rebels observed a truce on staggered dates also for the holidays : Dec. 24 to 26 and from Dec. 31, 2014 to Jan 1, 2015; and also during Pope Francis’ visit in the country from January 15-19, 2015.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines observed a month-long unilateral ceasefire from Dec. 19 to Jan. 20.
After the ceasefire period, both sides accused each other of violating their ceasefire declarations.
The NPA rebels has been waging a Maoist-inspired war against the government for the past 46 years, considered one of the world’s longest-running communist rebellion.
The armed conflict has claimed more than 40,000 lives, according to government figures.
The NDFP, the political arm of communist insurgents, has been engaged in on-and-off negotiations with the government for the past 27 years but peace remains elusive.
The peace negotiations have been stalled since February 2011.
The communist leadership has been demanding the release of detained comrades before the resumption of the negotiation based on the provisions of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) signed by both parties in 1995.
However, the government rejected the pre-condition. SFM
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