Manila, Dec 16 (efe-epa).- The New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), announced Wednesday that it would not declare its traditional Christmas ceasefire this year.
The announcement comes a week after President Rodrigo Duterte ruled out any Christmas truce with the rebel outfit, considered a terrorist group by the government, during his tenure.
“In the face of the vicious attacks by Duterte’s military and police officers both in the cities and countryside, the CPP Central Committee is forced to dispense with the traditional holiday ceasefire this year,” the NPA said in a statement.
Duterte “has ignored appeals for a ceasefire to give the people even a temporary respite from the oppressive and disruptive presence of fascist troops in their communities,” it added.
The Communist Party of the Philippines has authorized its armed wing “to carry out tactical offensives especially against attacking troops of the enemy, particularly those who have perpetrated massacres and extrajudicial killings and who are notorious for grave abuses and violations of human rights.”
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said earlier in the day that the armed forces were prepared for any potential attack by the NPA and stressed the government’s distrust of the communists, whom he accused of having violated all the recent ceasefire attempts.
“There will be no ceasefire ever again under my term, my term as president. For all intents and purposes, the ceasefire is dead. It is long gone,” Duterte had said in a televised address to the nation on Dec. 8.
Duterte had declared a unilateral one-month ceasefire on Mar. 16 to let the army focus on the response to Covid-19.
The NPA also halted hostilities on Mar. 25, days before the UN called for a global cessation of armed combats amid the pandemic.
However, the Philippines ceasefire did not last more than a month. During that time, the two warring parties accused each other of violating the truce.
Duterte came to power in 2016, promising to revive the peace process with the communists.
The two sides even agreed to a truce in 2017. However, the talks broke down in June 2018, which has led to a resurgence of the armed conflict.
The NEP, born in 1969 to combat the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, has about 3,900 regular troops – although it reached 26,000 in the 1980s. The conflict that since left 43,000 people dead, which makes it the oldest and deadliest communist insurgency in Asia. EFE-EPA