CLASHES between government troops and communist rebels are expected to resume as the truce declared by both sides expired Sunday, and the military accused the other side of violating its own ceasefire four times.
“Back to the old ways,” said Armed Forces spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, after the suspension of military operations was lifted.
The communist New People’s Army was the first to declare its unilateral ceasefire from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3. The military followed suit.
“As soon as the Somo ends and the unilateral ceasefire with the CPP [Communist Party of the Philippines] and NPA comes to a halt tonight, the Armed Forces will cease from its active defense mode and will switch back to full military operations against all enemies of the state,” Padilla said.
While the ceasefire was in effect, the military accused the NPA of attacking government troops in Samar and Camarines Sur.
Padilla said the NPA, the armed wing of the CPP, also launched attacks against troops in the provinces of Surigao, Compostela Valley and Bukidnon during the holidays.
The NPA, which marks its 47th founding anniversary in March, has not issued a statement.
The military says that the number of NPA combatants has fallen from 24,000 in the 1980s to about 4,000 today, but the CPP and its negotiating arm, the National Democratic Front claim the number of NPA fighters has risen to 10,000.
Despite all the modern infantry, air and naval equipment purchased to combat internal security threats, the Armed Forces has been unable to crush the communist insurgency or various terrorist movements in Mindanao.
The Palace on Sunday said the government did not violate its own ceasefire as the NPA attacked the military in Camarines Sur on New Year’s Day.
“According to the report of the Southern Luzon Command, the incident happened last Friday, Jan. 1, in Barangay Scout Fuentebella, Goa, Camarines Sur, where eight soldiers and six Cafgu [Citizens Armed Geographical Unit] where fired upon by about 10 rebel NPAs,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on state-run radio station dzRB.
Coloma said there was no report of injuries among the government forces, and that government forces recovered several firearms and weapons from the NPAs in the area.
“Despite the encounter, the Armed Forces of the Philippines continues to follow the Unilateral Declaration of Suspension of Military Operations which would end before midnight [Monday],” said Coloma.
Coloma said the Armed Forces is still on alert, as well as the Philippine National Police.
“But due to the prevailing ceasefire the military has not conducted any offensive action since they recognize the ceasefire. However, they continue to raise the alert status in order to ensure the security of our countrymen,” Coloma said.
Coloma said the Somo started at 12:01 a.m. of Dec. 23, 2015 and would end at 11:59 p.m. of Jan. 3, 2016. With Sandy Araneta
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