By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – The Communist Party of the Philippines declared a five-day unilateral ceasefire with government forces in observance of the holiday season and the party’s 50th founding anniversary on December 26.
In a statement, the CPP said its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA), and people’s militias have been ordered to cease and desist from carrying out offensive military campaigns and operations against the military and police starting 12:01 a.m. of December 24 until 11:59 p.m. of December 26, 2018, and from 12:01 a.m. of December 31 until 11:59 p.m. of January 1, 2019.
But the government side is not reciprocating the gesture.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen.Edgard Arevalo said, “Being unilateral, eh nasa sa kanila ‘yun [it’s up to them] if they would like to declare it but insofar as the AFP is concerned, sinasabi natin na [what we are saying] we are not inclined to recommend to the President a holiday truce this time,”Arevalo said.
Despite the ceasefire declaration, the CPP directed its forces to stay alert and maintain a high degree of militancy and vigilance against alleged hostile actions ofgovernment forces and not to leave “the people defenseless and place their units in danger.”
The CPP said the public can also visit their families and friends in areas controlled by the NPA as long they do not commit crimes or have no “outstanding warrants for their arrest.”
The Eastern Mindanao Command public information officer Major Ezra L. Balagtey said the communists “should prove not only in words but also in deed.”
He said the military will always carry out its mandate to ensure that the communities are able to enjoy a peaceful celebration of Christmas and the New Year.
The communists warned it would cancel the unilateral ceasefire if it sees that government forces continue their offensive against communities but it “can also be extended by a few days if positive conditions arise.”
Casambre couple arrested
Meanwhile, a member of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating panel and his wife were arrested by joint police and military forces in Bacoor, Cavite midnight Friday.
Rey Casambre, 67, and his wife Patricia, 65 were on board a vehicle cruising along Barangay Niyog 3, Molino Boulevard, Bacoor, Cavite at 12:10 a.m. when they were apprehended by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG-NCR, CIDG-4A), Cavite Provincial Police Office (PPO), Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Air Force (PAF) and Intelligence Section of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
Authorities recovered from the couple’s possession a caliber .45 pistol, a bundle of electric detonating cord, various ammunition, a fragmentation grenade, two cellphones, a laptop and P6,000 in cash.
The PNP said Rey is the secretary of the National Education Department of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The Karapatan-Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights on the other hand said Rey is an executive director for the Philippine Peace Center.
PNP-CIDG Director Chief Superintendent Amador Corpus said Casambre has warrants of arrest for murder and two counts of attempted murder issued by Presiding Judge Emilio Dayanghirang III of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 32) in Lupon, Davao Oriental.
Corpuz clarified Casambre was arrested by virtue of the warrant of the arrest and not because he is a consultant for the NDFP. (With reports from Francis T. Wakefield and Martin A. Sadongdong)