Philippine communist rebels declare unilateral Christmas truce
Fighters of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) raise their guns in the Sierra Madre mountains of Luzon region, Philippines, Dec. 29, 2017. EPA-EFE/FILE/MARK R. CRISTINO
Manila, Dec 7 (efe-epa).- Philippine communist rebels on Friday declared a unilateral ceasefire during the Christmas holidays, six months after the collapse of peace talks with the government.
In a statement, the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines - which will mark its 50th anniversary on December 26 - announced that its armed wing, the outlawed New People's Army, will not attack government forces from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26 and from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1.
"During the days covered by this temporary ceasefire declaration, all units of the NPA and people's militias shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military campaigns and operations against uniformed armed personnel," the statement said.
The ceasefire can be canceled in the event of a government offensive, or extended if conditions remained positive, the statement added.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had earlier said he would not recommend a truce with the rebels, while spokesperson of the armed forces Edgard Arevalo had alleged that the communist rebels have not been sincere with their past ceasefires.
It has been customary for the Philippine government and the communist rebels to declare Christmas ceasefire since the start of formal talks in the late 1980s.
The current peace negotiations began in Aug. 2016 after current president Rodrigo Duterte took office and the two sides had declared a ceasefire that lasted until Feb. 2017, when the rebels unilaterally broke the truce due over disagreements with the negotiations that were being carried out in Oslo, before backing out from the talks in June this year.
The NPA, founded in 1969, and listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, is among the oldest Communist guerrilla groups in Asia.
It will turn 50 in 2019, and has some 6,000 regular troops waging a revolutionary armed struggle that has led to more than 40,000 deaths in the last five decades.