Military says NPA insincere in holiday ceasefire
DAVAO CITY – The military on Wednesday accused the communist rebels of being insincere and blamed the New People’s Army (NPA) of violating their unilaterally-declared ceasefire following two alleged Christmas day attacks on government forces in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.
Earlier, New People’s Army (NPA) spokesperson Jorge Madlos, using the alias Ka Oris, announced that the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ordered the ceasefire “in observance of the Filipino people’s traditional holidays and the Party’s 49th anniversary” on Dec. 26.
In a statement, Madlos said “all NPA units and people’s militias shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military campaigns and operations” against government forces from 6 p.m. on Dec. 23 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 26 and from 6 p.m. on Dec. 30 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 2.
But Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, the commander of the army’s 10th Infantry Division based in Compostela Valley, reported that around 9:30 a.m. on December 25, communist rebels chased and tried to abduct militiaman Arbilito Catampao, in Barangay Tubaon in Tarragona, Davao Oriental.
Clement said the militiaman, who was in Sitio Madian in Tubaon, escaped captivity by running as fast as he could.
Around 7:30 p.m., still on Christmas day and while its self-announced truce was in effect, the NPA also harassed a militia outpost in Barangay Melale in Compostela Valley.
Clement said a brief firefight ensued, wherein it was believed that the NPA suffered casualties.
“There have been no casualty on the government side,” Capt. Jerry Lamosao, the 10th ID spokesperson, told reporters.
“The harassment did not prosper since the 10th ID is on full alert and vigilant for possible CPP-NPA attacks on our people and vulnerable communities,” Lamosao added.
Clement said the incidents were clear violations of the ceasefire the NPA had declared.
But he said the military had expected the rebels to violate their own truce, which was why army units had been told to be on the lookout for possible attempts by the rebels to disrupt peace.
“Their celebration is usually accompanied by armed attacks against the people that reflect their true color as a criminal organization void of any ideology,” Clement added.
Despite the incidents, Clement said the military was not poised to run after the rebels in deference to the suspension of military and police action that President Rodrigo Duterte had declared.
“The 10th ID will abide by the government’s SOMO and will maintain active defense posture in our (area of responsibility) to thwart any atrocity, deception and sabotage that the CPP-NPA is planning to stage,” he said.
The rebels had not made any statement on the supposed truce violations yet but earlier, it said it was ready to face “the full-scale war” that the Duterte government would be unleashing on them next year.
In a statement issued during the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on Tuesday, Ka Joaquin Jacinto, the National Democratic Front (NDF) spokesperson in the region, also said the New People’s Army (NPA) would continue to exist to oppose the government’s abuses.
“Despite the use of airstrikes, armed drones and prolonged focus operations, not one single NPA unit in Mindanao was wiped out. The number of platoons and companies have in fact increased this year,” he said.
Jacinto said NPA members were “ever willing to sacrifice their lives for the revolution and the people than be servile to the fascist dictatorship of the US-Duterte regime.”
“In spite of the constant black propaganda, bogus peace caravans and the incessant parade of fake or recycled surrenderees, NPA Red commanders and fighters never faltered,” he added.
He said 2017 spelled victory to the NPA in Southern Mindanao, where it launched more than 300 attacks.
“There were a few well-chosen and well-executed head blows as wells as numerous attritive actions against operating enemy troops, military camps and police outposts, making them suffer a casualty rate of more than a battalion,” he said.
Jacinto said in total, NPA units in Mindanao confiscated high-powered firearms enough to arm a battalion of rebels – including those who recently finished training.
“Given these resounding achievements of the revolutionary movement under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the NDFP-Mindanao calls upon all revolutionary forces and the struggling masses to redouble efforts in undertaking our basic ideological, political and organizational tasks to advance the people’s democratic revolution until complete victory,” he added.
Jacinto also called on the NPA “to launch more and more tactical offensives, combining multiple attritive actions with well-chosen and well-planned annihilative blows against the fascist AFP/PNP/paramilitary troops” as the Duterte government intensified its counter-revolutionary moves.
“The NPA must be determined to bring the people’s war to new heights,” he added.
Peace talks between the government and the rebels had collapsed with both side accusing each other of insincerity.
In November, President Duterte canceled talks with the rebels and later signed an order, tagging the CPP and the NPA as terror groups. /jpv
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