Posted to the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 20, 2020): WITH UNILATERAL CEASEFIRE//3rd ID military operations halt
The military operations of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in Western and Central Visayas yesterday grounded to a halt, in compliance with the order of President Rodrigo Duterte and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to observe a unilateral ceasefire from March 19 until April 15.
Capt. Cenon Pancito III, 3ID Public Affairs Office chief, said yesterday that they have already relayed communications to all infantry units prohibiting deliberate offensive operations against the New People’s Army.
But Pancito said all Army infantry units were also advised to maintain utmost vigilance, in anticipation of the NPA continuing terroristic actions, which must be acted upon immediately with appropriate response.
The order of Duterte to suspend military operations against the NPA was met with opposition from Communist Party founder Jose Maria Sison, who dismissed it as premature, and bereft of any basis for reciprocation.
Sison said in a statement there is communication going on between the Government Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front negotiating panels, and no agreement for reciprocal unilateral ceasefires in connection with certain considerations, requirements and modalities.
The NDFP is not assured and satisfied that the reciprocal unilateral ceasefires are based on national unity against Covid-19, as the appropriate solution of the pandemic as a medical problem and protection of the most vulnerable sectors of the population, including workers, health workers, those with any serious ailments, and political prisoners, he added.
Unless it receives sufficient assurances from the GRP, the NDFP will be inclined to think that the GRP unilateral ceasefire declaration is not sincere, and is not intended to invite reciprocation by the NDFP but is meant to be a mere psywar trick, Sison also said.
While the Department of National Defense will strictly abide by it, Lorenza said that the CPP-NPA ,however, has a bloody track record of using the government’s declarations of ceasefire to launch offensives, ambuscades, destruction of government and private property, extortion activities as well as to recover their dwindling numbers and create a false perception that they still have influence and relevance.
While he ordered AFP to temporarily suspend all offensive combat operations against the CPP-NPA, Lorenzana, however, said that they will perform normal law enforcement operations, in coordination with the PNP.
Col. Romeo Baleros, provincial police director, also ordered troopers of the Provincial Mobile Force companies and Special Action Force to desist from conducting military operations against the NPA rebels in Negros Occidental.
While assisting the Philippine Army and government medical personnel in border control operations against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Baleros said that they should not let their guards down.
Col. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, who visited and inspected frontline Army personnel deployed all over Negros Occidental, especially in the borders of two Negros provinces on Wednesday, said that he reminded troops to ensure their personal safety first, especially by wearing facemasks and by observing “social distancing” in order to extend their services especially their contribution in manning the different border quarantine control points.
Pasaporte also reported that three platoons of Army reservists are now assisting the police, City Health personnel, and the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, in four entry and exit points in Bacolod City, for thermal screening of commuters entering the city.
“The Bayanihan spirit of the Negrenses and the cooperation of everybody is very important in order to contain the spread of this threat.” Pasaporte stressed.*