Palace declares holiday ceasefire
The government on Friday declared its own 12-day unilateral ceasefire in observance of the Yuletide season.
Malacañang said last night that President Benigno Aquino III had approved the recommendation of the Defense Department to declare a unilateral suspension of military operations (Somo) against communist insurgents.
The Somo will take effect from 12:01 a.m. of Dec. 23 until 11:59 p.m. of Jan. 3, 2016, a Palace statement said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) earlier declared a unilateral ceasefire with government forces from Dec. 23, 2015 to Jan. 3, 2016. During the ceasefire, CPP’s military arm, the New People’s Army (NPA) will cease from carrying out offensive military operations against any members of the government forces.
Government annually suspends its military operations against the NPA during the Yuletide season.
However, skirmishes are expected as both government and NPA rebels accuse each other of violating their declared Somos.
The Armed Forces, however, will continue with its peace, development and humanitarian activities.
These, the NPA claims, are still military operations in the guise of activities for communities.
On Friday morning, two soldiers were wounded after NPA rebels ambushed a convoy of Army trucks that had just delivered relief goods in Northern Samar which was hit hard by Typhoon “Nona” (international name: Melor).
Relief convoy ambush
The Armed Forces of the Philippines condemned the attack on the relief convoy, saying it was an act of cowardice on the part of the NPA, which is suspected be behind the attack in Pinabacdao, Samar.
The ambush happened days after the NPA declared a holiday ceasefire from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3.
“Yes, it is a cowardly act. They are supposed to respect these kinds of mission,” AFP spokesperson Col. Restituto Padilla told a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo.
A 15-minute firefight erupted between the suspected rebels and the soldiers in the relief convoy at around 7:20 a.m. Friday in Pinabacdao town, leaving two soldiers wounded.
It was learned that troops from the 546th Engineering Battalion and the 83rd Division Reconnaissance Company led by 1Lt. Fritz Perez were involved in disaster response operations with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The convoy was composed of three trucks—a M35 Truck vehicle, one Mignon civilian vehicle and one mini-dump truck—and was on its way back to Tacloban City after transporting relief goods to Nona victims in Samar.
The convoy was on its way back to Tacloban City to get more relief goods for typhoon victims from the Office of Civil Defense there.
But near the boundary of Barangays Madalunot and Pahug, the soldiers and two DSWD employees were waylaid by suspected communist rebels, leading to a 15-minute gunfight.
Wounded were PFC Roel Dalaota, 27, of Bukidnon and PFC Jay Sercado, 24, of Samar.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council also slammed the attack, with NDRRMC undersecretary Alexander Pama appealing to the attackers’ conscience. With Marjorie T. Sia
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