Reds declare Christmas truce

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/19 December) — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has directed its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to observe a ceasefire effective “0000 Hours of 24 December 2013 to 2359 Hours of 26 December 2013 and on 0000 Hours of 31 December 2013 to 2359 Hours of 2 January 2014.”

In a statement issued Wednesday, the CPP said the NPA and its militia won’t carry out offensive operations against the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and government paramilitary forces during those periods.

The CPP, however, said NPA units will maintain an “active defense mode” against encroachments by government forces into their territories.

“This ceasefire declaration is being issued in solidarity with the Filipino people’s traditional observance of Christmas and New Year holidays,” the statement said.

It added the ceasefire declaration will allow people to join celebrations to mark the 45th anniversary of the CPP on Dec. 26.

The rebel group said it expects several people to attend the celebrations in various guerrilla zones.

The CPP sprang from the Soviet-leaning Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas whose armed group, the Hukbong Magpapalaya ng Bayan was decimated in the 1950s.

In March 1969, the reestablished party formed the NPA, which only had less than a hundred fighters.

Relying on ambuscades and other guerrilla tactics, the NPA gradually grew and reached its peak strength of some 25,000 in the late 1980s, according to the military. Other sources would give a smaller figure.

Recent estimates had placed NPA strength at between 4,000 and 5,000. (MindaNews)