MANILA—Malacanang welcomed on Monday the New People’s Army (NPA) decision to declare unilateral ceasefire in earthquake-ravaged areas to allow government to deliver assistance to victims.
“We are glad that the NPA heeded the call of the military for a ceasefire in earthquake-affected areas. We welcome their declaration and hope they do not renege on it as they have previously done,” Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar said in a press statement.
The NPA-North Eastern Mindanao Region has declared ceasefire from February 11 up to February 22 in Surigao del Norte and the municipalities of Cadbadaran, Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte after a 6.7 magnitude earthquake left heavy damages in these areas last Friday.
Andanar said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is presently conducting damage assessment and rescue, evacuation and rehabilitation activities.
“These should be continuous and remain unhampered so we can deliver immediate aid to the victims of this natural calamity,” Andanar said.
He said unity of the entire Filipino nation is needed particularly those who suffered so much because of the earthquake.
“The Government and its forces lean forward to provide the fastest and most expeditious assistance our suffering citizens in Surigao need at this time and distractions from criminal activities by armed groups would not be in their best interest,” the PCO chief said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has announced the allocation of PHP2 billion for relief and recovery efforts during his visit in Surigao City last Sunday.
Andanar, however, clarified that the PHP2 billion is not only for the relief and recovery efforts of earthquake-hit areas but for those displaced by the illegal mining in Surigao.
“This is what the President has mentioned, when he was talking in the context of mining problem there, if these mining sites will be closed, the people will be needing jobs and livelihood,” Andanar said.