By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) denied allegations by the National Democratic Front’s armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA), that the military has committed violations of the ceasefire agreement.
Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP public affairs office chief, said the military is “following [the ceasefire agreement] to the letter.”
“[The Suspension of Military Operations] prescribes combat operations but allows for law enforcement or support for law enforcement operations. It does not contravene the SOMO if AFP units support or capacitate local governments to bring basic government services to their constituents,” he added in a statement Tuesday, November 1.
He instead accused the NPA as the one with violations of the unilateral ceasefire by engaging in recruitment operations.
“The AFP has monitored NPA recruitment operations. Their leaders confirm it. But we do not complain about it but we’re recording it,” Arevalo said.
“We hope that a joint ceasefire agreement will be signed soon. That should provide for what may constitute violations and the mechanism on how to address violations of the agreement,” he added.
The NDF earlier expressed concern about “persistent reports” from the NPA of alleged violations of the Philippine government’s (GRP) own unilateral ceasefire declaration by the AFP.
NDF Peace Panel Chairman Fidel Agcaoili, in his letter to GRP peace panel chairman and labor secretary Silvestre Bello III, complained that “AFP troops continue to make incursions into the territory of the NPA in the guise of civic action and anti-drug operations.”
Bello had earlier written Agcaoili last October 20 to urge the NDF to join the GRP in simultaneously declaring “their renewed commitment to their respective unilateral, indefinite ceasefire.”
He made the proposal because the two sides would be unable to work out a bilateral ceasefire agreement before the October 26 deadline.