MANILA - Communist guerrillas have declared a unilateral ceasefire for the Christmas season and the anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
All New People's Army (NPA) units will observe a ceasefire from 6 p.m. on December 23 (Saturday) to 6 p.m. on December 26 (Tuesday), and from 6 p.m. on December 30 (Saturday) to 6 p.m. on January 2, 2018 (Tuesday).
"During this period, all NPA units and people’s militias shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military campaigns and operations against the uniformed armed personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its paramilitaries, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines," a statement posted on Philippine Revolution Web Central website read.
The NPA, however, shall remain on "active defensive mode" during the ceasefire, and will continue to " enforce policies and laws of the people’s democratic government, perform necessary and appropriate functions of governance, and mobilize the people and resources in territories under its authority."
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier declared the government’s unilateral ceasefire with communist guerrillas which will take effect from 6 p.m. on December 23 to 11:59 p.m. on December 26, and will resume at 6 p.m. on December 30 until 11:59 p.m. on January 2.
The unilateral ceasefire, which the government declares annually over the holidays, comes amid tensions between the state and the communist movement in the wake of the recent collapse of peace negotiations.
Despite the ceasefire declaration, the Armed Forces of the Philippines will still consider communist rebels as terrorists, military chief of staff, Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero said.
"To be on active defense, of course, and to make sure we continue protecting yung mga communities natin," Guerrero told reporters Friday.
Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana added that the suspension of offensive military operations is also to give soldiers time to spend the holidays with their families.
"They can also celebrate Christmas with their families also, siguro bigyan din natin ang mga NPA na makauwi sa mga bahay-bahay nila ngayon," he said.
-with a report from Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News