From the Daily Tribune (Dec 31): Military on the defensive during yuletide ceasefire
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday vowed to maintain a defensive posture to thwart any possible attempt by anti-government forces to disrupt peace during the New Year celebration in spite of the existing yuletide ceasefire with the communists. In a statement, the AFP-Public Affairs Office (PAO) also warned all its personnel from illegally firing their firearms during the celebration. The AFP vowed to strictly adhere to the provisions of the suspension of offensive military operations (Somo) declared with the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
“The AFP is one with the whole nation for a peaceful and safe celebration of the New Year. While we strictly adhere to the provisions of the Somo, our units will remain on guard and are maintaining a proactive defense posture to thwart any possible attempt to disrupt the peace and stability of our nation,” the AFP-PAO said. “We would like to assure our people that their soldiers continue to be professional and accountable in handling their issued firearms during the New Year celebration,” it added. The AFP-PAO stressed that soldiers are disciplined and are under strict orders to used their firearms only in the discharge of their official duties and functions. “All unit commanders are responsible enough to ensure that such a directive is adhered to by every military personnel under their commands,” AFP-PAO said.
The military also maintained that while thousands of troops and some equipment are still preoccupied with the relief operations in typhoon-ravaged areas in Mindanao, it will remain prepared for any eventualities during the New Year festivities. Intelligence operations have been intensified to thwart any attempts by anti-government forces to disrupt peace. “Even though most of our troops and assets are still currently deployed in Mindanao and undertaking relief and humanitarian operations, we are still maintaining a high degree of operational readiness and mission effectiveness,” the AFP-PAO said. “Our intensified intel collection and monitoring efforts will be sustained. We will not let our guards down and will continue to be very vigilant and alert to ensure a safe and secure New Year revelry for our people,” it added. Both the military and the NPA had declared a Somo in the spirit of the yuletide season.