CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 27 July) – The Army’s Fourth Infantry Division has ceased all offensive operations against communist rebels starting Monday hours after President Rodrigo Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire.
Maj. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., 4ID commanding general, said all units under his command from battalions down to companies and platoons have limited their movements to only “peripheral prophylactic patrols” around their bases to ensure the security of their facilities.
Madrigal said the cessation of hostilities covers the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed group the New Peoples Army, and the National Democratic Front.
“However, we will not let our guards down after the ceasefire declaration. We will remain vigilant in our respective areas of responsibility,” Madrigal said.
The area of responsibility of the 4ID covers two regions, eight provinces and eight cities in Northern Mindanao. It has an estimated 10,000 soldiers facing several NPA guerilla fronts, including the communist strongholds in Andap Valley in Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur.
Last Saturday, NPA rebels said they had captured three policemen and a civilian in Malimono town, Surigao del Norte.
President Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire during his State-of-the-Nation Address last Monday in order to jumpstart a stalled peace talks between the government and the rebels.
Jose Ma. Sison, NDF political consultant, welcomed Duterte’s announcement and promised the rebels will “reciprocate positively” soon.
Madrigal said his units will still secure vital installations and conduct checkpoints in support of law enforcement operations of the Philippine National Police.
“We are expecting our long-range patrols to be back in their bases tomorrow. After that no more patrols except those around the bases,” 4ID spokesperson Capt. Patrick Martinez said.
Martinez said they will ensure that no untoward incident will occur that could mar the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)