THE communist New People’s Army operating in Surigao and portions of Agusan del Norte has declared a unilateral interim ceasefire with government troops effective Feb. 11 following a magnitude 6.7 earthquake that struck the region, leaving six people dead and several structures damaged.
In a report in Mindanews, Ka Oto, the NPA’s spokesman in the region, said the communists had ceased tactical offensives against government forces effective 6 p.m. on Saturday “until the province will recover from the disaster.”
He said the rebels will focus on humanitarian efforts to help the quake victims.
“Rest assured we will not do any harm to the military as long as they will not come to our areas,” Oto said.
The military had earlier urged the communist rebels not to attack its soldiers conducting rescue and rehabilitation operations in the areas affected by the earthquake.
“Allow the soldiers every opportunity to help the victims of the earthquake,” Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, head of the military’s Public Affairs Office, said Saturday.
“We urge you not to attack our soldiers or in any other ways [that will] disrupt the AFP’s rescue and rehabilitation activities for our people,” he said.
The military’s appeal came as the NPA announced a “heightened armed resistance” against the government’s all-out war declaration on Saturday.
On Friday, Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison urged his former student, President Rodrigo Duterte, to continue with the peace negotiations with the communists to clarify “misunderstandings” that he said were instigated by the peace “spoilers.”
But Malacañang told the communist rebels to show their sincerity before any peace talks could continue.