MANILA—Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the New People’s Army’s (NPA) decision to declare a unilateral ceasefire in the quake-ravaged regions of Surigao Del Norte and Agusan Del Norte a “very nice gesture”.
“That’s a very nice gesture from them. Our troops will also not operate against them during the rehabilitation of Surigao Del Norte (and other quake-battered areas),” he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency on Monday.
Last Sunday, the Regional Command of the New People’s Army in North Eastern Mindanao Region (ROC-NPA-NEMR) declared a unilateral ceasefire in Surigao Del Norte and the municipalities of Cabadbaran, Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte.
“This temporary ceasefire in areas covered by NPA Front 16, which started last Feb. 11, 2017 and will end at 11:55 in the evening of February 20, 2017, is being declared because of the intensity 6.7 earthquake on the night of Feb. 10, 2017,” ROC-NPA-NEMR spokesperson Ka Ariel Montero said.
He added the ceasefire was declared to give NPA fighters 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.
Lorenzana’s views was also shared by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo Monday.
“We say that this is a good move on the part of the NPA, we are happy that they responded positively to our call to spare our soldiers who are performing rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations to benefit the victims of this tremor,” he added.
“This only goes to show that within their ranks there remains to be people who have good intentions and desire to show compassion and mercy to their countrymen in times of calamities,” Arevalo pointed out.
The AFP official said he was also hoping that these gestures of the NPA would be oft-repeated and thus help in the resumption of the peace talks.