MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have suspended their offensive operations against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA).
This, after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed the ceasefire agreement between the national government and the communist group for the holiday season.
Department of National Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana said the military will immediately implement the Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) in accordance with the order of the commander-in-chief despite the red alert status that the AFP has raised in line with the communist group’s celebration of its 51st anniversary on December 26.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Eduardo M. Año, on the part of the police, said: “it is the prerogative of the President, as commander-in-chief, to declare a unilateral ceasefire for the Christmas season and we abide by his decision.”
Año has also directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to comply and to issue appropriate orders to all units in the field.
“While we remain vigilant and take a strong defensive stance, this will also give an opportunity for our policemen and soldiers in the field to spend a meaningful celebration of Christmas with their families,” the DILG chief said.
On Sunday (Dec. 22) PNP officer-in-charge PLtGen. Archie Francisco Gamboa issued a memorandum on the agency’s implementation of Suspension of Police Operations (SOPO) amid their full alert status.
PNP Spokesman Police B/Gen. Bernard Banac said that with this directive, the PNP will not conduct offensive activities from December 23 to January 7.
Año hopes that the rebel group will make use of the ceasefire as an opportunity “for them to surrender, avail of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Community Integration Program (ECLIP), rejoin mainstream society, and start a new life together with their families”. — (with details from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf
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