THE Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to observe a ceasefire from December 23 to January 3 “in solidarity with the Filipino people’s traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year holidays.”
In a statement, the CPP said upon the recommendation of the negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), it ordered all NPA commands and units to implement the ceasefire that will take effect from 12:01 a.m., December 23 to 11:59 p.m., January 3.
In response, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it hopes the CPP-NPA will strictly abide by the self-declared unilateral ceasefire and “will live up to their promise of non-violent and peaceful holidays for the Filipino and their members.”
Col. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesman, said there had been instances in the past that the ceasefire was violated by the rebels.
While awaiting the same ceasefire declaration from the national government, the AFP said that in coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP), it will continue enforcement operations and focused military activities against threat groups in the country.
“The AFP wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas holidays so that our own soldiers can go home and be with their families and love ones. Every year, we always aim to give every Filipino a peaceful Yuletide that is devoid of any violent and untoward incidents, which might disrupt the solemnity and joy of the season,” Padilla said.
The CPP said aside from the observance of the Christmas holidays, the truce was declared in support of efforts of peace advocates to foster the resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the CPP-NPA on the basis of The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
During the ceasefire period, all NPA units and people’s militias shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military operations against the armed units and personnel of the AFP, PNP and other paramilitary and armed groups.
“Personnel of the AFP and PNP who have no serious liabilities other than their membership in their armed units shall not be subjected to arrest or punitive actions. They may be allowed individually to enter the territory of the people’s democratic government to make personal visits to relatives and friends,” the statement read.
It said that while all units of the NPA shall be on defensive mode at both the strategic and tactical levels, they shall nonetheless maintain a high degree of militancy and vigilance against any hostile actions or movements of the enemy armed forces including encroachment on the territory of the people’s democratic government, surveillance and other offensive operations including so-called “peace and development,” “civil-military” or “peace and order” operations.
“Active-defense operations shall be undertaken only in the face of clear and imminent danger and actual armed attack by the enemy forces.”