THE National Operational Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) has announced all its units can now “take full initiative” as the 10-day grace period for the termination of its unilateral ceasefire declaration expired today.
“Starting today, the Unilateral Declaration of Interim Ceasefire is now completely terminated. All NPA commands and territorial units, as well as people’s militia and self defense units, can now take the full initiative to defend the people and advance their interests, especially in the face of the declaration of all-out war of the (Rodrigo) Duterte regime,” NPA spokesperson Jorge ‘Ka Oris’ Madlos in a statement said.
Madlos said the revolutionary forces eagerly waited since their February 1 announcement for the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to positively respond to calls for the implementation of Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) obligations and pre-empt the termination of the ceasefire.
Madlos was referring to Duterte’s promised amnesty of all political prisoners.
“Contrary to the hopes of the people, however, GRP Pres. Duterte displayed intransigence and arbitrarily cancelled all peace negotiations, playing to the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) line of an all-out war against the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and NPA,” Madlos said.
Duterte responded to the NPA’s February 1 termination announcement with an immediate termination of GRP’ unilateral ceasefire declaration last February 2.
On February 3, Duterte scrapped formal peace negotiations between the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
GRP National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced AFP’s all out war against the NPA last February 7,
30 military actions
Madlos said NPA units carried out almost 30 military actions to defend the rights and welfare of the people primarily against AFP troops occupying barangays and conducting strike operations over the past 10 days in response to orders to carry out active defense.
“In its active defense posture, NPA operations were launched exclusively against paramilitary groups and uniformed personnel conducting combat, intelligence and psy-war operations within the territories of the revolutionary government,” Madlos said.
Madlos cited the February 1 encounter between NPA and troops of the 8th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) which he said had been occupying Barangays Kibalabag and Manalog, 36 kilometers from the center of Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.
Three soldiers, Sgt. Owen Yee, Corporal Niño Christopher Talabor and Corporal Pat O. Non were killed by the NPA when the three soldiers reportedly made a move to draw their guns against the accosting guerrillas.
A four-day clash is also ongoing in Sto. Niño, Cagayan between the 17th IBPA and the Danilo Ben Command of the NPA that has so far resulted in the killing of PFC Rowel Tabuada and the wounding of five other GRP troopers.
NDFP Peace Consultant for Cagayan Valley Felix Randy Malayao said 20 civilians have evacuated to avoid being caught in the crossfire.
“PA’s attack was launched soon after Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced an all-out war against the NPA,” Malayao said.
Frustrating Duterte’s all-out war
Madlos said the NPA is no longer restricted by the previous active defense policy and may already launch offensives of its own against GRP forces.
“The NPA, from here on, must frustrate the all out war of suppression of the AFP by launching tactical offensives against any legitimate military target, including active troops of the AFP and PNP (Philippine National Police), paramilitary or AFP-supported armed vigilante groups, intelligence operatives, and warlord private armies in detachments, camps or operations within and beyond the NPA guerrilla zones,” Madlos said.
The NPA spokesperson however said they remain committed to the formal peace negotiations between the NDFP and the GRP even while they are fighting the AFP.
“The NPA remains open to peace talks while fighting rages in the countryside,” he said. (Raymund B. Villanueva)