BAGUIO CITY: Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. urged the government to institute ceasefire mechanisms at the local level to monitor the indefinite truce forged between the military and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front -New People’s Army (CPP-NDF-NPA).
Baguilat stressed that local monitors are necessary to ensure compliance of the ceasefire, although he believed there is no unusual troop movements in the region as claimed by the NPA.
The lawmaker added that monitoring will also minimize claims and counter-claims of abuses or breach of the peace agreement between the government and the communist party.
The Ifugao-based Nona Del Rosario Command of the CPP-NPA claimed that military operations are ongoing in the province despite a ceasefire earlier ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte as prelude to the resumption of the peace talks.
Wigan Moncontad of the NPA-Ifugao, in a press statement said that members of the Philippine Army’s 54th Infantry Battalion (IB) and other allied units continue thier search and destroy operations in the towns of Asipulo and Tinoc and in Ambagio, Nueva Vizcaya.
The battalion-strong operation, the NPA-Ifugao claimed, has been ongoing for more than a week now. It added that a supposed NPA-military encounter in Asipulo town on August 14 was prompted by the alleged presence of government troopers in the area.
Earlier, Army Capt. Jefferson Somera, spokesman of the 54th IB, said troopers were tipped off by villagers on the presence of NPAs in the remote village of Camandag in Asipulo, prompting a team of soldiers to respond. The approaching soldiers, he added, were fired upon by the rebels which resulted in a five-minute firefight.
There was no reported casualty on the government side but rebels carried with them their wounded comrades, Somera claimed.
The indefinite ceasefire that starts today, August 28, was the highlight of peace talks between the government and the CPP-NDF in Oslo, Norway.
Meanwhile, on Friday, the NPA released three police officers they held as “prisoners of war”.
Rubi del Mundo, an NDF spokesman, said the release of the police officers is a gesture of goodwill for the formal resumption of the peace negotiations.