THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) denied on Tuesday allegations that it violated the provisions of the suspension of military operations (SOMO) with the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
“We’re following it to the letter,” Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP public affairs office, maintained.
He was refuting complaints from regional NPA commands that the military has been violating its own ceasefire.
According to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), soldiers continue to make incursions into the territory of the NPA in the guise of civic action and anti-drug operations.
“Such military operations only serve to heighten tensions and serve as disincentive to forging a more stable bilateral ceasefire,” it said in a statement posted on its website.
But Arevalo said the SOMO “proscribes combat operations but allows for law enforcement or support for law enforcement operations.”
“It does not contravene the SOMO if AFP units support or capacitate local governments to bring basic government services to their constituents,” he pointed out.
The official added that the AFP does not know of any territory but poor communities in the countryside where citizens yearn for the presence of government to bring about development and peace and order.
According to him, the military has monitored NPA recruitment operations during the period of the ceasefire but never complained about it.
“We hope that a joint ceasefire agreement will be signed soon. That should provide for what may constitute violations and the mechanism on how to address violations of the agreement,” Arevalo said.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared a ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines in August.