THE government has declared a unilateral truce with communist rebels and urged them to “go down from the mountains” for Christmas, but a recently bought passenger bus was torched by suspected members of the communist New People’s Army at the national highway in Barangay Morales, Koronadal City on Wednesday night.
Local authorities said the bus, the fourth to be torched by armed men in the province and the sixth attack against bus companies since November 13, was heading for General Santos City from Cotabato City via Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat and Tacurong City when the incident happened around 7:15 pm.
Eight armed men asked the passengers to disembark before dousing the bus with gasoline and setting it on fire before escaping.
Reports said the passenger bus owned by the Mindanao-based Husky Bus Lines cost P5 million.
It was the second attack on the Husky Bus Lines since November 27 when gunmen burned another Husky bus in Tantangan, South Cotabato.
The buses of Yellow Bus Lines were also torched by men who claimed they were communist guerrillas in Tupi and Sto Niño towns and in Kiamba, Sarangani province, and Magsaysay, Davao del Sur last November.
Duterte announced Wednesday the declaration of the end of hostilities with the communist rebels from December 3 to January 2.
Duterte said members of the New People’s Army, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front could leave their respective lairs and spend time with their families during the holidays.
He assured the rebels that the government forces would not arrest them once the truce took effect.