LEGAZPI CITY: The Armed Forces of the Philippines in Bicol is not complacent and remain vigilant even as the communist insurgents’ New People’s Army (NPA) have declared a holiday truce.
Army Col. Claudio Yucot, commanding officer of the Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade said that they are happy with NPA’s unilateral declaration of ceasefire this yuletide season but remain on alert status owing to previous occurrence of rebels’ reported betrayal of their own truce.
“We’re grateful with rebels’ truce in this way we could celebrate yuletide season’s with respective family, however we could not be complacent enough because there are instances that even with ceasefire they’re attacking the military,” Yucot said.
Yucot said that half of his men have been allowed to celebrate Christmas with their families.
The Communist Party of the Philippines central committee has declared a truce from Dec. 23, 2015 to Jan. 3, 2016 in solidarity with the traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year of the Filipinos.
With this, all NPA units including militias across the country will observe a ceasefire for 12 days with government forces.
The declaration was affirmed by Luis Jalandoni, peace negotiating panel chairman of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), who is currently based in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Similarly, President Benigno S. Aquino III has adeclared the suspension of military operations (SOMO) against the NPA.
But the suspension of military operation does not cover law enforcement operations conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that the AFP supports against other threat groups and wanted personalities.
“We appeal to the NPAs in Southern Tagalog and Bicol Regions to use this moment to reflect on our call to abandon the armed struggle and return to the fold of law. Let us be one in keeping this tradition of peace, sharing and loving alive in our hearts as Filipinos,” Yucot said.
RHAYDZ B. BARCIA