Central Command welcomes ceasefire
THE Armed Forces Central Command welcomed yesterday President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement of a unilateral ceasefire with the New People’s Army (NPA).
“If there are people who are happy with ceasefire and peace talks with communist rebels, that’s us, soldiers, and our respective families because we have sacrificed much for our country,” said Lt. Col. Luzmindo Mamaug Jr., spokesperson of the Cebu City-based Central Command.
He said they have yet to receive an official directive regarding the unilateral ceasefire.
But Mamaug said they likely won’t pull out their troops from their areas of assignment.
“We will not drop our guards. There will be no withdrawal of troops although there would be no offensive operations,” Mamaug said.
“Ceasefire will only be applicable in the conduct of offensive combat operations against the NPA (New People’s Army) and we expect reciprocal actions from them as well,” he said.
In his first State of the Nation Address last Monday, Duterte urged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), NPA and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to “end decades of ambuscades and bloody skirmishes.”
The President said a ceasefire was intended “to immediately stop violence on the ground, restore peace in the communities and provide an enabling environment conducive to the resumption of the peace negotiations.”
Mamaug said soldiers are also willing to assist policemen in the campaign against illegal drugs.
He said the Armed Forces have been providing intelligence reports to the police regarding illegal drug operations in the country.
In the coming days, Mamaug said soldiers want to do more and help the police stop the spread of illegal drugs.
“We’re always ready. It (fighting drugs) is better than going up the mountains (to go after rebels),” he said.
Jaime Paglinawan, chairman of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Central Visayas, said President Duterte’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire will pave the way for the resumption of peace talks.
Rep. Ramon “Red” Durano VI of Cebu’s 5th district said he believes it’s about time for a unilateral ceasefire between the government and the rebels.
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