DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A spokesman of the New People’s Army said its unilateral ceasefire declaration might be cut-short because of a looming armed encounter between their troops and that of the government.
In a statement on Tuesday, Ka Allan Juanito, spokesperson of the NPA in North Central Mindanao said the military has deployed five battalions under the army’s 4th Infantry Division and the 13th Regional Public Safety Battalion of the Philippine National Police in 78 villages in the cities of Butuan, Gingoog, Malaybalay and Valencia and the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon.
The government and the NDF separately issued a unilateral ceasefire declaration following the successful resumption of the peace talks in Oslo in August.
President Rodrigo Duterte reissued the ceasefire on August 24 and ordered the government troops to “be friendly with the forces of the revolutionary government of the Communist Party of the Philippines.”
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA issued an indefinite ceasefire on August 28, 2016.
The NPA scored the Philippine Army for its operations in the communities through the anti-drug campaign Oplan Tokhang, medical and dental mission, and census.
“They would be entering far flung communities, interrogating residents and ransacking houses. Their census, in essence, is a form of tactical interrogation,” he said.
Juanito said the soldiers stay at the village from three days to three weeks. Juanito said the military told residents that “the ceasefire only concerns Duterte and the NPA.”
He also accused the military of pressuring barangay councils to pass a resolution “requesting” the presence of the Army for protection.
Juanito said those who will not agree with them will be subjected to tight security in the community. He added the soldiers attended council meetings of villagers and dictated on the contents of barangay resolutions.
Juanito said on Oct. 21, around 35 troops of the 13th Regional Public Safety Battalion entered the mountainous part of Barangay Bit-os in Butuan City.
“Around 4 p.m. the next day, 18 troops passed by Malihaw and the other 17 went to an area near Amparo. These villages in Butuan are where the soldiers go to during combat operations,” he said.
‘Call for end of ceasefire’
On Nov. 16, he said the houses of farmers inside the plantation of Del Monte in Barangay Plaridel, Claveria, Misamis Oriental were demolished. An army official told farmers that they will reclaim back their lands in exchange of signatures that will make it appear that they “surrendered” to the government.
Juanito said the farmers were told that they will only be assisted to reclaim their lands if they will promise the soldiers that they will not join rallies.
The NPA leader also said that the residents are asking for a stop of the ceasefire because the soldiers continue to threaten them.
In some villages, Juanito said there are residents who are initiating a petition to ask for the soldiers to leave their communities or they themselves will evacuate.
No official reports
Meanwhile, government chief negotiator and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said they have not yet received any official complaint of ceasefire violation on either side of the National Democratic Front or the military.
In a press conference in Malacañang on Tuesday, Bello told reporters that ceasefire violation cases should be submitted to the Joint Monitoring Committee of both the GRP and NDF.
“So far there is no report, in other words, our ceasefire commitment is holding up,” he said.
Ka Oris: NPA holding back offensives
In a statement on Oct. 8, NPA national spokesperson Jorge Madlos said “not a few NPA units are having difficulty holding back offensives amid threats of armed troops of the AFP which continue to conduct Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency intelligence, psywar and combat operations in the guerrilla zones of the NPA.”
“There are reports of continuing AFP operations across the country, from North Luzon to Southern Mindanao. There are even reports that military units are telling civilian residents that the ceasefire is no longer in effect to justify their operations and presence in their communities,” he said.
The NPA’s Agustin Begnalen Command based in Abra said the Army’s 24th Infantry Battalion have been telling civilians in Sallapadan town that the ceasefire has ended. (davaotoday.com)