THE North-Eastern Mindanao Regional Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) declared a unilateral ceasefire in the Province of Surigao del Norte and some municipalities of Agusan del Norte following a 6.7 earthquake in the area last Friday.
In a statement, Ka Ariel Montero, spokesperson of the Regional Operational Command of the NPA, said the ceasefire are in areas covered by their Front 16 and is effective from February 11 to 11:55 in the evening of February 20.
In Agusan del Norte, the areas covered by the NPA ceasefire are Cabadbaran, Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago towns.
“This ceasefire is being declared to give the Red fighters of the NPA in Front 16, all government agencies, including the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and non-government organizations, the opportunity to inspect the areas affected, especially the mountain areas, for damages resulting from the earthquake,” Montero said.
“Above all, this declaration of ceasefire is to enable the delivery of immediate aid to the masses and for them to be given assistance towards the rehabilitation of their damaged properties and livelihood,” he added.
Montero said the NPA’s Front 16 had been on active defense posture since 6 o’clock in the morning of February 11 to assess and help the masses in the far-flung areas affected by the earthquake.
“We hope that this ceasefire declaration will be reciprocated by the 30th IBPA and other concerned AFP troops and the Philippine National Police in Surigao del Norte,” Montero said.
To date, six have been reported killed in Surigao City as a result of the earthquake while hundreds were injured.
Several large buildings were also reported damaged, including the bridge connecting Brgy. Ipil, Surigao City to San Francisco town.
All flights to the city have been cancelled because of the damage of the airport runway while some parts of the city have no electricity and water service had been shut down, the NPA said.
“7th ID launches military operations”
Meanwhile, the Philippine Army (PA) in Central Luzon and parts of the Ilocos Region said it will launch “focused military operations” after the mutual termination of the respective unilateral ceasefire declarations of the NPA and the Duterte government.
The 7th Infantry Division said it will serve warrants to identified CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front [of the Philippines]) personalities in coordination with the Philippine National Police.
“The abrupt termination of the unilateral ceasefire has put the Armed Forces of the Philippines in a position to better protect its people and its soldiers,” the Army unit said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
Over the weekend, clashes between the PA and the NPA have erupted in various parts of the country,
The Philippine Army said fighting broke out in three Mindanao provinces, namely Sarangani, Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.
Inquirer Mindanao reported yesterday that a 73rd IBPA soldier was injured following a two-hour clash with the NPA in Barangay (village) Little Datal Anggas in Alabel, Sarangani for two-hours starting 10:30 a.m.
Three separate fire fights also took place between soldiers of the 60th Infantry Battalion and communist guerrillas in Barangay Bollucan in Laak, Compostela Valley.
In Davao Oriental, a brief clash also took place in Barangay San Jose in Caraga town around 2:45 p.m. Saturday, the Inquirer report said.
A four-day encounter also happened in Sto. Niño, Cagayan that resulted in one government trooper killed and four injured. (Raymund B. Villanueva)