By: Jaime Sinapit, InterAksyon.com November 24, 2013 8:36 AM
MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE: 7:26PM) Communist rebels have extended to Christmas Eve a ceasefire they declared immediately after super typhoon Yolanda struck the country. The Army welcomed news of the extension, but added its field forces will remain vigilant against possible attacks.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines said in a statement that the original truce, “which practically commenced on 8 November 2013, and was originally set to expire on 2359 hours (11:59 p.m.) of 24 November, will now remain in effect up to 2359 hours of 24 December.”
The ceasefire covers areas under the New People’s Army’s Eastern Visayas Regional Command, Panay Regional Command, Central Visayas Regional Command, and Negros Island Command.
“The ceasefire declaration is being extended by another month in view of the extent and gravity of the devastation of the super typhoon that has been made worse by the gross negligence and inutility of the ruling Aquino regime,” the statement said. “This will allow all committees of the people’s democratic government, respective commands of the NPA and units of the people’s militias in the devastated areas to continue with rehabilitation efforts.”
At the same time, it ordered the NPA and “people’s militias” to “remain in active defense mode” during the truce because the government has not declared a similar ceasefire and “the Aquino regime and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) have refused to relent in their offensive military operations and campaigns of suppression.”
It cited successive clashes between “between a local NPA unit carrying out rehabilitation efforts” and troops of the 47th Infantry Battalion in the hinterlands of Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental on November 16.
“The CPP leadership rejects the Malacañang proposal for a nationwide ceasefire of indefinite duration,” the statement also said.
The rebel truce, it explained, is “localized and has a definite period of effectivity with the aim of addressing the urgent need of extending emergency services to the people and carrying out rehabilitation efforts.”
“A ceasefire of longer duration and nationwide scope can be carried out only on the basis of fundamental socio-economic and political reforms,” it added. “Otherwise, such a ceasefire will be of no benefit to the people and will only be taken advantage of by the most reactionary and fascist elements to push for the pacification and surrender of the people’s revolutionary forces.”
The Philippine Army on Sunday welcomed the cease-fire extension by the communist movement, but it said it will continue to exercise vigilance in protecting the people and its soldiers from possible attacks.
Army spokesman Capt. Anthony Bacus expressed hope “that the CPP-NPA is sincere with this extension of cease-fire and [this is] not just propaganda to mislead the public and government forces,”
Soldiers helping distribute relief goods, providing security and supporting rehabilitation efforts for typhoon Yolanda victims, will remain vigilant against attacks from the rebels. "The security and safety of the people and our soldiers remain our primary concern," Bacus said.
Earlier, the Central Committee of the CPP extended by one month its cease-fire declaration, issued to all commands of the New People’s Army (NPA) and units of the people’s militias operating in areas devastated by the November 8 super-typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan).
“The ceasefire declaration, which practically commenced on 8 November 2013, and was originally set to expire on 2359 hours of 24 November, will now remain in effect up to 2359 hours of 24 December,” said the CC-CCP statement.
“The cease-fire declaration is being extended by another month in view of the extent and gravity of the devastation of the supertyphoon that has been made worse by the gross negligence and inutility of the ruling Aquino regime. This will allow all committees of the people’s democratic government, respective commands of the NPA and units of the people’s militias in the devastated areas to continue with rehabilitation efforts,” the CC-CPP said.