Govt OKs ceasefire with NPA ahead of Xmas, Pope visit

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 15 2014 01:45 PM | Updated as of Dec 15 2014 09:45 PM

MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III has approved a ceasefire of operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) ahead of the Yuletide season and the visit of Pope Francis.

In a statement read by Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, the AFP said the unilateral declaration of the Suspension of Military and Police Operations (SOMO) will start midnight of December 18, 2014 up to January 19, 2015.

Catapang said the SOMO highlights the government’s sincerity in the peace process.

Nonetheless, the AFP will continue to undertake security operations and proactive actions to ensure the security of civilians, infrastructure, installations, etc.

“The AFP and PNP forces engaged in law enforcement operations, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) and defensive operations, which include security of vital installations and infrastructure projects will continue their current posture and will continue to operate to ensure the safe and secure celebration of the yuletide season,” he said.

The SOMO extends up to the visit of Pope Francis in Manila and the Visayas.

The AFP had said it will closely monitor the movements of the communists ahead of the Catholic Church head’s visit.

Nonetheless, the Communist Party of the Philippines said there are no threats from their end.

"Together with the rest of the Filipino people, the CPP, the NPA and all revolutionary forces look forward to Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines. Through his visit, the Filipino people hope to draw attention to the outstanding problems of poverty, exploitation of workers, land monopolies and feudal oppression, the wide gap between the super-rich ruling elite and the rest of the toiling people, human rights violations and the widespread use of state terror against the people," it said.