The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), through its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA), has announced a ceasefire in time for the coming Christmas and New Year holidays as well as the scheduled visit to the country of Pope Francis next month.
The ceasefire will cover the following periods, according to a statement originally published in PhilippineRevolution.net:
12:01 am of December 24, 2014 to 11:59 pm of December 26, 2014;
12:01 am of December 31, 2014 to 11:59 pm of January 1, 2015; and
12:01 am of January 15, 2015 to 11:59 pm of January 19, 2015
Curiously, the Communists’ declaration of ceasefire coincided with Pope Francis’ 78th birthday today, December 17.
“All units of the New People’s Army and people’s militia are ordered to desist from carrying out offensive operations against units and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the various armed paramilitary groups attached to the Government of the Philippines (GPH),” the announcement states.
In the same statement, the group explained that it is declaring ceasefire during the visit of Pope Francis because many Filipinos are looking forward to use the occasion to “raise outstanding issues such as military abuses and violations of human rights and children’s rights, Hacienda Luisita and widespread landlessness, poverty and exploitation of peasants and workers, bureaucratic corruption, and government neglect of calamity survivors and the poor.”
The communists warned the government against using Pope Francis’ visit “as a pretext to deploy large numbers of armed troops to prevent the people from organizing.”
They added: “All units of the NPA and the people’s militia shall remain in active defense mode. All commanders, Red fighters and militia should remain ever vigilant and alert against the treacherous encroachment of operating military troops and police personnel of the GPH into the territories of the people’s democratic government.”
CPP-NPA’s ceasefire announcement comes two days after the administration of President Benigno Aquino III declared a four week truce with the rebels, lasting from December 18 to January 19.
“With the silencing of guns, our preparations for and celebration of Pope Francis’ visit may be carried out with undistracted prayers and deep hope for abundant blessings showered on our people,” presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles said in an interview with GMA News.