CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The New People’s Army (NPA) on Sunday (Dec. 29) slammed the military for an attack in the Caraga region last Dec. 23, when the unilateral and reciprocal holiday ceasefire declared by the Duterte administration and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) took effect.

Nicolas Marino, NPA spokesperson for the North Central Mindanao Region, accused the Philippine Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion of initiating an operation against the Communist guerrillas near Barangay San Vincente, Esperanza town in Agusan del Sur.

He said four members of a paramilitary group attacked an NPA camp in the area resulting to a firefight which lasted for about two minutes.

There were no casualties on both sides, he added.

An excerpt of the NPA statement released Sunday said the attack was a “violation of the ceasefire.”

That same day, the military and police have accused the NPA of the same violation after an encounter with government troops in Barangay Baay, Labo, Camarines Norte and in Barangay Singon, Tubungan, Iloilo province.

The military and police have issued separate statements condemning the attacks, but the NPA said those were “defensive” actions against the state forces.

READ: Mindanao bishop calls for calm as gov’t. CPP observe ceasefire

The Duterte administration and the CPP both declared a 15-day holiday truce which started Dec. 23 and will last Jan. 7, 2020.

Marino said the ceasefire ordered by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte could just be a “deception” if his administration will not unify its military and police forces, as well as its paramilitary units.

“This only goes to show that the (Duterte) government’s armed forces are unorganized and fragmented,” he said.

While the ceasefire is in effect, Marino said it’s possible that the same incident in San Vicente could happen since 17 Army battalions have been deployed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the Caraga region alone.

Meanwhile, the Army’s 402nd Infantry Brigade said several towns in Caraga have expressed their indignation against the NPA.

During the CPP’s 51st anniversary celebration last Dec. 26, residents and officials from local government units of Butuan City, Cabadbaran City, Remedios T. Romualdez, Kitcharao, Nasipit, Buenavista, and Surigao City, joined the protest action condemning the NPAs across the region.

This support of the civilian population to the military, said Brig. Gen. Maurito Licudine, commander of the 402nd IB, is an indication that the NPA no longer has the support of the common folk.

“The people have spoken against the CPP-NPA. They resent the violence and the atrocities that brought only death and suffering to our people,” Licudine said in a statement.

The police, military and its paramilitary groups, on the other hand, were tagged as perpetrators of 293 political killings, 167 of which are human rights defenders since Duterte rose to power, according to rights group, Karapatan.

It added, at least 204 were tortured, 429 were victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings, 11 were forcibly disappeared, and 94,075 were threatened and harassed, excluding the thousands killed in the drug war by the government’s troops and agents. (

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