The Daily Manila Shimbun


Palace welcomes local ceasefire by NPA in Surigao

February 13, 2017

Malacanang welcomed on Monday the declaration of ceasefire by the communist New People's Army in earthquake-hit areas in Mindanao.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar expressed hope that the rebels would not break its own truce declaration.

"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," he said in a statement.

He noted the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is 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 added.

He said 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."

At this time of calamity, cooperation is needed, he stressed.

The Regional Command of the NPA in North Eastern Mindanao Region (ROC-NPA-NEMR) has declared a unilateral ceasefire in Surigao del Norte and the municipalities of Cabadbaran, Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte.

Ariel Montero, spokesperson of the ROC-NPA-NEMR, said the "temporary ceasefire" in areas covered by NPA Front 16 started on February 11, when the magnitude 6.7 earthquake hit Surigao, and will end at 11:55 in the evening of February 20.

"This ceasefire is being declared to give the Red fighters of the NPA 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," he said.

The declaration of ceasefire would also enable the delivery of immediate aid to the masses and for them to be given assistance towards the rehabilitation of their damaged properties and livelihood, he added.

Montero said the NPA members in Front 16 have been on active defense posture since 6am on February 11 to assess and help the masses in the far-flung areas affected by the earthquake.

"We hope that this ceasefire declaration will be reciprocated by the 30th IBPA (Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army) and other concerned AFP troops and the Philippine National Police in Surigao del Norte," said. Celerina Monte/DMS