Communist rebels declare 12-day holiday ceasefire

Edwin G. Espejo

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Communist rebels declare 12-day holiday ceasefire
The National Democratic Front says the unilateral ceasefire declaration will allow rebels to celebrate the holidays, and carry out mass assemblies to mark the 47th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – In observance of the Christmas season, the National Democratic Front (NDF) has ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to cease all offensive operations against the Armed Forces of the Philippines from the first minute of December 23, until midnight of January 3, 2016.
“This ceasefire order is being issued in solidarity with the Filipino people’s traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year holidays,” NDF chief peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni said in statement posted on the NDF website.
Jalandoni added that the ceasefire “will also enable the revolutionary forces to carry out mass assemblies and public demonstrations to mark the 47th anniversary of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and celebrate revolutionary victories of the past year.”
The CPP will mark its 47th founding anniversary on December 26.
The NDF said the rebel group will take an active defensive stance against military operations and will fight back if attacked by government forces.
“[The NPA] 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,” the NDF said.

The government has traditionally declared a holiday ceasefire in military operations against communist rebels. But Brigadier General Jose Kakilala, AFP chief for civil relations services, said the AFP has not yet received ceasefire orders from President Benigno Aquino III.
The CPP-NPA-NDF is believed to maintain a regular force of at least 6,000 fully armed guerrillas operating in more than 70 provinces across the country.
The AFP claimed it has reduced the armed strength of the NPA to less than 4,000 combatants nationwide, from a high of 20,000 armed regulars in the 1980s.
CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison said, however, that the NPA is operating on at least 120 guerrilla fronts and has regained its strength.
More than 40,000 people, including non-combatants, have died in the course of the decades-long communist insurgency. –

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