MANILA, Philippines – Malacanang has approved an 18-day ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
President Aquino announced on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011, that the suspension of military operations (SOMO) against communist insurgents, will take effect on December 16, and will last until January 2, 2012.
The Armed Forces traditionally proposes the implementation of the SOMO during the holiday season, while the NPA rebels responds with a unilateral ceasefire declaration.
In 2010, the President also approved the AFP’s recommendation for a 18-day holiday truce, considered to be longest period implemented in a decade.
Previous administrations normally approve holiday truces to last less than a week.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo approved in 2008 a four-day ceasefire, from December 24-25 and December 31 to January 1, excluding December 26, the anniversary of the NPA. In 2009, the holiday truce lasted for 5 days, that included December 26.
As of posting time, the AFP national headquarters has yet to issue a statement on the President’s announcement.
AFP Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) spokesman, Lt. Col. Randy Cabangbang however urged the NPA to “take advantage of the government’s sincerity” to extend holiday goodwill.
WestMinCom accused NPA rebels of attacking an military detachment in Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay last November 5, which resulted to the death of a militiaman.
“They should go home and spend Christmas with their loved ones,” Cabangbang said, adding the that all units under WestMinCom will “ensure the rebels can safely move around”. Rappler.com