MANILA, Philippines-President Benigno Aquino III on Friday has approved a 26-day unilateral ceasefire against the communist rebels in view of the Christmas season.
According to Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda, the ceasefire will officially start on 12:01 a.m. on December 21 to 11:59 p.m. on January 15, 2014.
Lacierda said that that the unilateral Christmas ceasefire is traditionally being done every year under Aquino administration.
In his previous statement however Lacierda maintained the government’s position on said ceasefire, saying “ it does not stop us from taking defensive operations when something happens and we need to protect our own people.”
On December 18, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) also announced a “ceasefire” to all commands and units of the New People’s Army, its armed wing, which will take effect on December 24 to December 26, and separately on December 31 to January 2, 2014.
The party added that during those period , “all commands of the NPA and the people’s militia shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive operations against the armed units and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and all other paramilitary forces attached to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.”
However the group reminded its guerrilla command that “while in active defense mode, they should remain ever vigilant against any encroachments by the reactionary armed forces and its attached armed groups into the territory of the people’s democratic government.”
“In the face of clear and imminent danger, NPA and people’s militia units retain the option to engage in armed hostilities as an act of self-defense and in order to prevent the enemy from unleashing its brutalities against the people.”
“This ceasefire declaration is being issued in solidarity with the Filipino people’s traditional observance of Christmas and New Year holidays,” CCP said on its website.
The declaration of ceasefire would give opportunities for both camps to observe traditional Christmas and New Year holidays with their families and loved ones.
According to the communist website, the declaration “effectively extends by another two days the ceasefire covering the regional commands of the NPA in the Eastern Visayas, Panay Island, Central Visayas and Negros Island, whose forces were mobilized to assist the people in the areas devastated by the recent super typhoon Haiyan.”
In Samar island, said to be one of the bulwarks of the rebels, Capt. Amado C. Gutierrez, chief of public affairs office of the 8th Infantry Division told ucanews.com that the ceasefire is anticipated considering their anniversary, adding that they remain “ready for their any rebel movement on their area of responsibility.”
“We are confident we can thwart their plans (on any attack) as people in Eastern visayas are behind us,” Gutierrez said.
The communist party will celebrate its 45th year on December 26, while the government’s security forces, Philippine Army, will observe its 78th founding anniversary on December 20.
The country’s insurgency ranks one of the longest running Maoist-rebellion in the world even after Cold War has longed ended and the Union Soviet collapsed in 1991.
Reports said that “between 6,970-9,366 people were killed in fighting” between the government forces and the communist between 1989 and 2012.
The communist party continues to boast it has gained strength in number of combatants and weaponry against the government.