SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 Aug) – The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army has extended up to Aug. 31 its suspension of all offensive operations in Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte for the facilitation of the release of five abducted policemen, which is expected on Friday and Saturday.
The CPP-NPA declared Friday last week a seven-day unilateral ceasefire that started 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 21 to 11:59 midnight of Aug. 27 to “celebrate and bolster” the formal resumption of talks with the government in Oslo, Norway.
The extension, said CPP-NPA-NDF Northeastern Mindanao Region spokesperson Ka Maria Malaya, is intended to ensure the safety and security of the “prisoners of war (POW),” the third party facilitators, the NPA custodial units, and all those who will witness the release of PO1 Richard Yu of the PNP-Carmen in Surigao del Sur; PO2 Caleb Sinaca, PO3 Jayroll Bagayas and non-uniformed police worker Rodrigo Angob of the Malimono Municipal Police Station in Surigao del Norte; and SPO3 Santiago Lamanilao of the Surigao City Police Office.
“The [NDFP-NEMR] hereby orders all units of the New People’s Army whose area of responsibility covers San Miguel, Tago, Tandag City, Cortes, Lanuza, Carmen, Madrid, Cantilan and Carrascal in Surigao del Sur and the whole province of Surigao del Norte to continue to suspend all offensive operations until midnight (12:00) of August 31, 2016,” said Malaya.
She said that with President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire, they also expect that the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit and paramilitary forces to suspend their offensive operations.
“Should the AFP-PNP-CAFGU units fail to comply with the directive, they shall be subject to counter-offensive and active-defense military actions of the NPA after the lifting of the NPA unilateral ceasefire at the dawn of August 28, 2016,” Malaya warned.
According to Ka Oto, the spokesperson of the rebel group’s Front 16 based in Surigao del Norte and portions of Agusan del Norte, the release of PO1 Richard Yu is scheduled Friday somewhere in Surigao del Sur while the release of other policemen is scheduled on Saturday in an undisclosed location in Surigao del Norte.
Ka Oto wished that the ceasefire would last until September 9-10 for the fiestas celebration in the cities of Surigao Tandag.
Malaya reminded NPA fighters to “maintain their active-defense posture within the given timeframe of the ceasefire, and must not hesitate to defend its forces and the masses within its area of responsibility.”
The policemen’s release, according to NDFP spokesperson for Mindanao Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, “signifies the revolutionary movement’s serious intent in pursuing peace talks between the NDFP and the GHP and as a gesture of goodwill for the resumption of formal peace talks in Oslo, Norway” that begun on August 22. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)