MANILA — The Palace welcomes the ceasefire declared by the New People’s Army (NPA) for the holidays and the Papal visit next month, an official said, expressing hope that the gesture would lead to a long-term solution to the country’s insurgency problem.
“Ang pagpapahayag ng tigil putukan sa panahon ng Kapaskuhan at sa napipintong pagdalaw ng Santo Papa ay makatutulong sa pagtamo ng katahimikan sa ating pamayanan at kaligtasan mula sa ligalig at pangamba (Their announcement of a ceasefire during the holidays and the Papal visit will help achieve peace in the community and safety from fear and unrest),” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement issued on Thursday.
“Nawa’y magsilbing tulay din ito sa pagbuo ng matatag na batayan para sa pagresolba sa mga usaping naging balakid sa pagkakaunawaan ng mga nagtutunggaling puwersa sa lipunang Pilipino (We hope this will help build a stable basis to resolve differences between opposing forces in society),” he added.
The Communist Party of the Philippines on Wednesday declared a ceasefire during the holidays and the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.
The truce will cover the following dates: Dec. 24, 2014 to Dec. 26, 2014; Dec. 31, 2014 to Jan. 1, 2015; and Jan. 15, 2015 to Jan. 19, 2015.
The NPA has ordered its fighters to desist from carrying out offensive operations against the police and the military, as well as the government’s paramilitary groups.
It said the declaration was issued in solidarity with the Filipino people as they observe the traditional holidays, which coincide with the CPP anniversary celebration on December 26.
According to the rebels, the ceasefire was also issued in deference to the visit of Pope Francis.
Early this week, the military declared a month-long ceasefire against the communist rebels, also for the same reasons.
The unilateral ceasefire will start on the midnight of Dec. 18 and end on the midnight of Jan. 19.
The Philippine government has been battling communist insurgents for several decades. Government estimates put the rebels at 4,000, mostly in Mindanao.