Sunday, January 3, 2016

Government, CPP-NPA end holiday truce

From the Philippine Star (Jan 3): Government, CPP-NPA end holiday truce

The holiday ceasefire declared by the CPP and the government started last December 23.

The 12-day holiday truce between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is set to end Sunday night with the military reiterating its call for the rebels to renounce violence and live peaceful lives.

With the end of the ceasefire, the military can resume offensive operations against the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP.

“The armed forces will cease its active defense mode and will switch back to full military operations against all enemies of the state,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said in an interview.

“Every Filipino is saddened by the (fact) that peace only comes during the holidays particularly the Christmas season. The AFP believes that the Filipino is aspiring to finally attain peace in the whole country,” he added.

Padilla said it’s about time that the CPP-NPA consider abandoning the armed struggle, the only remaining communist insurgency in Asia.

“We support any peace process for the end of all hostilities,” the military spokesman said.

“We call on them (communist rebels) to consider renouncing the use of arms. We’ve had enough of conflict. It’s time to lay down their arms and work for the benefit of our people,” he added.

The holiday ceasefire declared by the CPP and the government started last December 23.

The truce barred government forces and communist rebels from launching offensives but they are allowed to defend themselves when under attack.

The military claimed that the NPA rebels had violated the ceasefire when they harassed soldiers in Surigao del Sur, Bukidnon and Davao City last month and in Camarines Sur on New Year’s Day.

The CPP has yet to issue a reaction on the military’s accusations.

The truce was declared in support of the peace negotiation between the communists and the government, which was called off in 2013 because of differences over detained rebel leaders.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which represented the CPP and NPA in the talks, demanded the release of rebels facing criminal cases, saying they are working as peace consultants and are therefore immune from arrest.

The NDFP pointed out that the release of peace consultants is provided under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees signed by peace negotiators in 1995.

Government negotiators, however, rejected the demand, saying the NDFP could not prove that the jailed rebels, especially those using aliases, were really peace consultants.

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