THE Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday ordered the Suspension of Offensive Police Operation (SOPO) against the communist New People’s Army (NPA) nationwide in the spirit of the holiday season.
The PNP spokesman, Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, said in a statement that the SOPO took effect on Wednesday midnight (12:01 a.m.) and will last up to midnight of News Year’s Day (January 1, 2016).
“In line with the observance of Yuletide, the Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ricardo Marquez, declares the SOPO against the NPA this holiday season,” Mayor added in the statement.
The PNP spokesman said the declaration of the SOPO is part of the yearly tradition of the police and the suspension is observed and respected by all units of the PNP.
“However, the SOPO does not cover normal law enforcement operations including the service of warrants of arrest,” Mayor added.
He said police forces will maintain a defensive posture and a high state of operational readiness to respond to hostile actions by NPA.
“Recognizing the inherent right to self-defense, all units still remain on-guard and maintain a high state of operational readiness to respond to any hostile actions,” according to the statement.
The PNP said Marquez has reminded policemen to take extra precautions and preemptive measures must be strictly observed to avoid NPA attacks on vital installations and police stations.
Mayor cited an incident in Barangay New Eden, Pangantucan, Bukidnon, last December 12 where personnel from municipal police station were ambushed while responding to a reported incident.
“So as not to jeopardize the spirit of the presidential directive, however, all police units must exercise caution and restraint in the conduct of movements and activities, which may be viewed as provocative acts against the NPA,” Marquez said in the statement.
Mayor said the PNP will still continue to conduct active defensive measures such as security patrols to protect all PNP camps, stations, vital installations and civilian communities.
Previously, PNP units also conducted gun-muzzle taping, in line with intensified efforts of the national police against illegal discharge of firearms this holiday season.