• ‘Surrender arms before ceasefire’

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    TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: Government forces in Cagayan Valley challenged the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels to surrender their firearms as show of good faith in the ceasefire they declared in the region recently.

    NPA spokesman Crispin Apolinario of the Danilo Ben Command in West Cagayan went on air over a radio program proposing for a ceasefire in Santo Niño, Cagayan and urged the military to vacate the area.

    Government forces however challenged the rebels to surrender at least 15 firearms in their possession before authorities would consider any proposal to withdraw from the town.

    “The NPA should show some goodwill and sincerity in their proposal for a ceasefire by surrendering firearms to the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] before any troop pullout from the area is to be considered,” Col. Bacarro, 2nd Brigade Commander of the 5th Infantry Division, said.

    Similarly, the police regional office (PRO) here said in a statement that before any pull out of troops can be considered, “the NPA must show some degree of goodwill.”

    Chief Supt. Eliseo Rasco, PRO 2 director, said giving up several firearms to the government is one way of showing goodwill and sincerity.

    The firefight between government forces and the communist rebels began on Wednesday night when an army platoon patrolling the vicinity of Santo Niño town encountered an armed group.

    A soldier died and five from the rebel side were wounded during the clash.

    The military said the NPA has suffered heavy casualties, citing witnesses who saw the rebels flee the battle zone toting several dead comrades.

    “There were at least 15 dead being carried by the NPAs fleeing the area,” a witness told government forces.

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