The government on Friday said military operations would continue against communist rebels despite a unilateral ceasefire declared by the New People’s Army.
“No, what for?” said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana when asked if military operations would be suspended. “For them to… regroup… so that after [the holiday season] they can fight? For them to extravagantly celebrate their 50 years [that have]… oppressed the country? We are fooling ourselves about this ceasefire. A ceasefire is always in their favor.”
Lorenzana was reacting to a declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Communist Party of the Philippines in observance of the holidays and their 50th anniversary.
The CPP said the holiday truce will take effect from 12:01 am on Dec. 24 to 11:59 pm on Dec. 26. They also expected another ceasefire at 12:01 am on Dec. 31 to 11:59 pm on Jan. 1, 2019.
“During the days covered by this temporary ceasefire declaration, all units of the NPA and people’s militias shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military campaigns and operations against uniformed armed personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines [AFP] and Philippine National Police [PNP],” a statement from the CPP Central Committee said.
The rebel group also called on revolutionary forces to heighten their resistance against the Duterte administration, encouraging them to hold meetings, assemblies, and mass rallies.
“We must all struggle arduously to frustrate Duterte’s scheme of extending martial law in Mindanao, exercising de facto nationwide martial law powers, giving the military full control of various government agencies and programs and employing the military and police to manipulate the results of the 2019 elections to ensure local government control by pro-Duterte and pro-AFP officials and put Congress under his majority control in order to push charter change for his federalism project next year so he can impose his dictatorship with the support of allied regional warlords and political dynasties,” the statement read.
The ceasefire would be cut short, however, if the military advances, the group warned.
The Palace said the government was ready for any eventuality as the communists marked 50 years of armed struggle.
In Molino, Cavite, police and military agents arrested an NDFP consultant Rey Claro Casambre, 67, and his wife Patricia, 72, in connection with murder cases in Davao Oriental.
Police said he was arrested on the strength of a verified warrant issued by Judge Emilio Dayanghirang III of Regional Trial Court branch 32 in Lupon, Davao Oriental, arising from two counts of murder and attempted murder.
Supt. Alberto Ibay, Metro Manila director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said the arrest had nothing to do with Casambre being an NDF consultant.
Casambre was the fourth NDF consultant arrested following the collapse of peace talks.
Rafael Baylosis, Adel Silva and Vic Ladlad, who had participated in back-channel talks with the government, have also been arrested.
The Casambre couple were on board a silver Toyota Vios and were on their way home after attending the wake of geologist Rolando Peña at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City when they were arrested the corner of Dagohoy St., Molino town at about 12:10 am Friday.
A CIDG report said a .45 pistol, with one magazine, seven live bullets for cal. 45 and a fragmentation grenade were taken from the 67-year-old Casambre.
Last year, the communists and government forces agreed to temporarily stop the fighting in observance of the holidays, but the military blamed the NPA of violating the truce.
In a speech Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was no longer ready to talk to CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison, saying he would slap the communist leader’s face once he sets foot in Manila.
He told Sison, who has lived in exile for more than three decades, that revolution would not help transform the country.
In November 2017, the President signed Proclamation 360, putting an end to peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, after a series of attack by communist rebels on government forces.
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