spot_img
30.2 C
Philippines
Sunday, May 19, 2024

No ceasefire: Troops kill 9 NPA rebels

- Advertisement -

The government has ruled out a Christmas ceasefire with the New People’s Army because of a “leadership vacuum” within the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) after many of its top leaders were neutralized, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Colonel Medel Aguilar said Monday.

This developed as troops killed nine communist rebels in a series of firefights on Monday, about a month after the two sides agreed to resume peace talks, the armed forces said.

The fighting occurred in four remote villages near the southern city of Malaybalay, a military statement said, at the start of a two-day unilateral Christmas truce declared by the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The military’s Fourth Infantry Division did not immediately release details of the Malaybalay clashes that it said left nine NPA rebels dead.

The rebels had announced on Saturday that they would observe a two-day “suspension of tactical offensives” from Christmas Day to mark the insurgency’s 55th founding anniversary on Tuesday.

But the military said it would not observe a Christmas ceasefire this year with the NPA, which it said has less than 2,000 members left after a high of around 26,000 guerrillas in the 1980s.

In a radio interview, Aguilar said: “We don’t talk about that (ceasefire) because we believe that they are already weakened and their statements have no bearing.”

The CPP declared a unilateral ceasefire from Dec. 25 to Dec. 26 in observance of its 55th founding anniversary. In a statement, the CPP said the ceasefire will start 12:01 a.m. on Monday and end at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday.

But AFP Public Affairs Office chief of the Armed Forces, Col. Xerxes Trinidad in a statement said: “The unilateral ceasefire declared by the CPP is an empty statement as they do not have the leadership and support of the masses. Their ammunitions are depleted and their members, supporters included, are surrendering.”

“The task given to the AFP is clear and we will comply with it. We will be watchful and our operations will continue unabated to keep our communities safe and end the communist armed conflict, once and for all. The defeat of this threat aligns with the collective wish of all Filipinos,” Trinidad said.

“The unilateral ceasefire declared by the CPP is an empty statement as they do not have the leadership and support of the masses. Their ammunitions are depleted and their members, supporters included, are surrendering,” he added.

Trinidad also said that the unilateral ceasefire declaration of the terrorist group was now irrelevant and calls for the CPP leadership to surrender their arms and return to the civilized and law abiding society.

“Their capability to plan and stage attacks was already diminished, but we are expecting harassments to create unnecessary disturbance or noise. Nonetheless, our forces on the ground were already warned and are ready,” Trinidad said.

“It is much better for them to abandon the armed struggle. Laying down their arms and returning to the folds of the law in order to be with their families is the rational path forward towards a united, peaceful, and progressive country,” he added.

The CPP, in a statement, said: “To mark the significance of the upcoming 55th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines, we hereby declare to all units of the New People’s Army across the country to observe a two-day suspension of tactical offensives starting at 0001 hours of December 25 and ending on 2359 hours of December 26.”.

The government and the rebels announced last month that they intend to resume peace talks next year, following a series of failed negotiations launched by previous governments since the ouster of President Ferdinand Marcos’s father in 1986.

The Maoist insurgency, one of the world’s longest-running, has claimed thousands of lives. With AFP

LATEST NEWS

Popular Articles