On the first day of the truce by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), 2 attacks aimed against government troops and police was reported and confirmed, in Camarines Sur and Iloilo, later on the day of December 23. The attack was also admitted by the CPP-NPA (New People’s Army) itself. According to the reports, communist troops detonated an improvised explosive device twice (IED).
The first assault was in Baay, Labo, Iloilo which killed one AFP member and injured six more. On the same day, a second assault was reported in Brgy. Singon, Tubungan, on the same province at around 9:20 in the morning. The ambush injured two police personnel, launched just 20 minutes following the attack on the AFP in Brgy. Baay. On this incident, the IED used hit a patrol vehicle.
However, according to the statement written at the CPP website, the armed units was informed about the ceasefire that was agreed between the two “governments” through the recommendation of the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines). This is in response to president Duterte’s order of Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension of Police Operations (SOPO). The said purpose of this ‘reciprocal and unilateral’ ceasefire is “to generate a positive atmosphere conducive to the holding of informal talks preparatory to the resumption of the formal peace talks”.
“Upon the recommendation of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines declares to all commands and units of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the people’s militias a nationwide ceasefire order that will take effect from 00:00H of 23 December 2019 to 23:59H of 7 January 2020.”
It was also stated in the CPP website that the armed units shall “cease and desist” from staging offensive ops against the government troops, including its paramilitaries and the police units. However, Major General Fernando Trinidad of the AFP in a statement said that the CPP-NPA cannot be trusted and that the attack was a clear violation of the treaty, tagging it as “treacherous act of terrorism”, even adding that it was a “violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law”.
According to Trinidad:
“This action is a clear manifestation of their deceptive and ill motives, as well as their use of terror and violence to show their strength which, for so long a time, hampers the government’s campaign to attain sustainable peace and development”.
As a response, the CPP delivered a statement on December 24, saying that the incidents was just “a defensive actions by the NPA units involved, in the face of armed attacks and sustained military operations” by the AFP and PNP”. This is according to the NDFP negotiating panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili. In connection, PNP Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said that this could be the case, especially with regards to the series of operations in Tubungan during the past few days.
It was stated 2 days ago by presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo that the president is inviting the CPP founding chairman Joma Sison to come back to the country and participate for a “preparatory” one on one talk in connection to the agreed peace negotiation between the two “governments”. However, Sison declined to the invitation, saying:
“Nevertheless, I am willing to meet with President Duterte in a country near the Philippines after the formal resumption of the peace negotiations and the mutual approval of the Interim Peace Agreement. This is to help “in securing the necessary political, legal and security guarantees from a number of pertinent countries”.
Meanwhile in Davao City, Mayor Sara Duterte called for the exclusion of Davao City for the said ceasefire, saying that the CPP-NPA “simply cannot be trusted”. In a statement last Monday, December 23, the Mayor stated:
“We ask the Duterte government to exclude Davao City from the scope of the Christmas ceasefire with these terrorists. We also seek the same once the national government pursues the reopening of the formal peace negotiations. For these terrorist organizations, sincerity is a strange word. To believe that they desire a peaceful end to the insurgency problem would be playing ignorant of their bloody habit.”