Saturday, April 18, 2020

No extension on ceasefire versus NPA, Army says

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 18, 2020): No extension on ceasefire versus NPA, Army says (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

There is no extension of the government ceasefire against the New People’s Army in the Visayas, Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command chief, Lt. Gen. Roberto Ancan, said yesterday.

The government unilateral ceasefire ended on April 15. But the Communist Party of the Philippines extended from April 15 to April 30 its ceasefire declaration, which started March 25.

The CPP issued a statement ordering all NPA units and its people’s militias “to continue to desist and cease from carrying out offensive military actions against the AFP and Philippine National Police, and other paramilitary and armed groups attached to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).”

The aim of the ceasefire extension, according to the CPP, “is to ensure quick and unimpeded support to all people requiring urgent medical, health and socioeconomic assistance in the face of the public emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ancan yesterday said that normal military operations against the NPA armed group have resumed in Visayas after the government unilateral ceasefire ended on April 15.

The AFP recorded attacks made by the NPA against government troopers engaged in the campaign against COVID-19 in Iloilo that claimed the life of an Army soldier, harassment of a military outpost in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, and robbing of COVID-19 relief goods by the NPA in Balangiga, Samar,while the ceasefire was ongoing.

As we perform our duty as frontliners during this trying times, we need also to carry out our mandate of protecting the people from the menace of the CPP-NPA, Capt. Cenon Pancito III, spokesman of the 3rd Infantry Division, said.

Pancito said that they are not extending the ceasefire in order to defend the people of Western and Central Visayas from the deceptive attacks of CPP-NPA, who are always taking advantage of the truce by conducting illegal activities such as recruitment, extortion and other form of atrocities.

As we face this health crisis, we cannot just focus our effort to a single task and let the CPP-NPA take advantage of the situation, he said, adding that they need to do multitasking to protect the people both from the dangerous COVID-19 and the treacherous enemies of the state,

Extending a ceasefire is not a practical decision at this time, Pancito also said.

The only way for us to prevent them from disrupting the effort of the government and the people in fighting COVID-19 pandemic is to resume our offensive military operations, he added

Pancito said that the 3ID have enough forces to deal with the two equally important tasks, of fighting against COVID-19 and the CPP-NPA.

In extending the ceasefire, the CPP said that all revolutionary forces are “ever ready to cooperate with all other forces and elements to achieve this objective.”
But the CPP reminded all NPA units to “maintain strictest secrecy” and not allow themselves to be exposed to AFP attacks.

During the ceasefire period, all NPA units must strictly limit themselves to active defense operations which shall be carried out only in the face of imminent danger and actual armed attacks by the enemy forces, the CPP statement added.

On the other hand, the Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates issued a statement accusing the 79th Infantry Battalion, PNP Special Action Force of perpetrating human rights violations in northern Negros, while the Enhanced Community Quarantine is being observed in Negros Occidental.

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