Conflicts & War

Philippine communist guerrillas decide against ceasefire extension

Manila, Apr 30 (efe-epa).- The Philippine communist guerrilla group the New People’s Army announced on Thursday that it will not extend a ceasefire that expires at midnight after President Rodrigo Duterte refused to hold peace talks.

“The NPA’s national ceasefire expires at midnight after 36 days. All units will move from an active defensive position to the offensive,” the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines said in a statement.

Duterte declared a month-long unilateral ceasefire on 16 March so that the military could focus on the response to Covid-19.

The NPA announced its own cessation on 25 March in response to a call from the United Nations for a suspension of global hostilities in the midst of the pandemic.

During this time, the two sides have accused each other of violating their respective truces.

The government announced it would not prolong its cessation of hostilities — which expired on 15 April, despite the fact that the insurgency had extended it until 30 April.

“The refusal of the Duterte regime to stop its attacks on the NPA despite the call for a global ceasefire has made the extension of the truce impossible,” the group said.

The party, whose leader and founder Jose Maria Sison has been in exile in the Netherlands for three decades, said counterinsurgency operations by the armed forces had not stopped and that they had deployed troops in 396 villages and 148 cities, where there was “fighting, aerial bombardment, artillery fire and ground intelligence operations with the arrest of civilians.”

During these 36 days, the communists reported the armed forces suffered 56 casualties, of which 31 died in combat, while 18 NPA combatants died and eight were wounded.

The NPA added that during the ceasefire, its troops had been focused on the response to Covid-19 in rural areas where they have the most presence, distributing supplies and medicines and providing medical attention.

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