PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd has approved a recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for a 32-day unilateral declaration of suspension of military and police operations against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. on Monday said the suspension of military and police operations (Sompo) would take effect midnight of December 18 and end midnight of January 19, 2015.
“The declaration of the Sompo against the NPA will highlight the government’s sincerity to pursue peace,” Catapang said.
He clarified though that the military and police forces engaged in law enforcement, humanitarian assistance, disaster response and defensive operations, which include securing of vital installations and infrastructure will continue their current posture to ensure a safe and secure Yuletide celebration.
“The AFP will continue to undertake active security operations and proactive actions to secure civilian communities, government establishments, investment facilities, vital installations and military bases,” Catapang pointed out.
He said support operations would also be sustained to assist civil authorities, government instrumentalities and other agencies and their mandate for peace, development and humanitarian assistance programs.
Catapang and the PNP officer-in-charge, Deputy Director Gen. Leonardo Espina, in a joint news briefing, both expressed confidence that the CPP-NPA-NDF would reciprocate their declaration.
The AFP chief of staff assured the underground group that the military and the police would abide with their declared Sompo but stressed that government security forces would, at all times, maintain their defensive posture in their respective camps and as well as in all vital installations and pubic places such as churches, shopping malls and parks, among others.
“We do not want any atrocities from their end to happen in our end,” he said.
Espina said the PNP would continue with its law enforcement functions such as serving of warrants of arrest.
He explained that the serving of warrant of arrest is a mandate given by the courts to the police.
“So law enforcement and operations will continue because these are issued with due warrants from the respective courts,” Espina said.
Catapang said law enforcement would include the arrest of NPAs caught recruiting or enticing civilians to join the underground movement.
Espina expressed hope that NPA will reciprocate the Sompo declaration
He noted that the declaration will cover the five-day visit of Pope Francis to the country from January 15 to 19.
Espina was designated as OIC of the police organization after the Office of the Ombudsman last December 3 suspended PNP Director General Alan Purisima for six months over the anomalous P100-million courier service that the police entered into in 2011.