MANILA, Philippines - The holiday truce declared by the government ended Monday without violations by government soldiers and rebels.
“There was no violation by the military. Perhaps when our troops were attacked, they conducted a hot pursuit but that was a law enforcement action,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa said yesterday.
Dellosa said there were at least three attacks by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, but said these actions could not be regarded as truce violations since the rebels had not declared a ceasefire when the attacks happened.
“During that time, the AFP declared a unilateral SOMO (suspension of military offensives) so we cannot blame them if they attacked us. But we were ready that time,” he said.
The government’s ceasefire with communist rebels took effect from Dec. 16 to Jan. 2. The rebels reciprocated by declaring a ceasefire that took effect from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26 and from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2.
Insurgents staged two offensives against state troops in Surigao del Sur while the truce declared by the government was in effect.
On Dec. 16, the rebels attacked soldiers conducting development projects in Tandag City. Five soldiers were killed.
The second attack happened on Dec. 19 in Bislig City, resulting in the death of a 63-year-old woman and the wounding of seven soldiers.
On Dec. 20, a soldier died and another was wounded in an attack staged by the NPA in Las Navas, Northern Samar.
The communist rebels, however, have accused the government of violating its own ceasefire.
In a statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said the violations happened in the provinces of Abra, Surigao del Sur, Isabela and Rizal. CPP claimed the military occupied villages and conducted offensives despite the complaints of local residents.
“The 18-day ceasefire order is an empty declaration that serves only to cover up the continuing terrorist activities of the military, police and paramilitary forces,” CPP said in a statement. - By Alexis Romero