Madrigal: military will not recommend holiday ceasefire with NPA

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 08 Dec) — The military will not recommend a suspension of military operations (SOMO) to reciprocate the Communist Party of the Philippines’ declaration of a five-day holiday ceasefire, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, outgoing chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command and incoming Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CSAFP), said.

The CPP declared a unilateral ceasefire from 12:01 a.m. of December 24 to 11:59 p.m. of December 26, the same day it  celebrates its 50th anniversary — and from 12:01 a.m. of December 31 to 11:59 p.m. of January 1, 2019.

Asked to comment on the CPP’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire, Madrigal, who will assume the post of APP Chief of Staff on December 12 when Gen. Carlito Galvez retires, responded by sending through SMS the statement AFP spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo issued last Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, outgoing Eastern Mindanao Command chief and incoming Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Madrigal will assume  the post of Chief of Staff on Wednesday, December 12, when Gen. Carlito Galvez reaches the mandatory age of retirement. MindaNews file photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

“Declare sila kunwari ng ceasefire to make it appear that they are advocates of peace this Christmas and for us to reciprocate. And if the AFP will not reciprocate, they will surely make an issue out of it and make it appear like we are peace spoilers,” Arevalo said.

He said communist guerrillas would take advantage of the truce “to regroup, refurbish, and recruit” but government forces will not give them that leeway as they have “already learned from our lessons in the past”

Cease and desist

In a statement dated December 3, the CPP ordered all units of its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA), and people’s militia, to cease and desist from carrying out offensive military campaigns and operations against the military and police but directed them to stay on alert for active defense mode and maintain “a high degree of militancy and vigilance” against hostile actions or movements of the government forces.

The CPP said the public can visit their families and friends in areas controlled by the NPA for as long they do not commit crimes or have no “outstanding warrants for their arrest.”

It added the military can take a brief leave from their offensives to spend time with their families during the holidays.

It warned it would cancel the unilateral ceasefire if it sees the government forces continue their alleged offensives against communities and attacks against the activists but it “can also be extended by a few days if positive conditions arise.”

50 years

The CPP urged all revolutionary forces to celebrate its anniversary by “heightening all forms of resistance against the US-Duterte fascist regime and its scheme of extending martial law in Mindanao, exercising de facto nationwide martial law powers, giving the military full control of various government agencies and programs and employing the military and police to manipulate the results of the 2019 elections.”

It added the government “pipe dreaming when it declares it can completely defeat the armed revolution by middle of next year,” claiming the NPA “continues to gain strength nationwide, mount tactical offensives, carry out agrarian revolution with the peasant masses and build organs of political power across the entire country.”

Outgoing AFP Chief of Staff Galvez last month said the military will eliminate the NPA by next year.

“We are confident by 2019 we will be finishing the CPP-NPA,” Galvez told reporters during his visit at the Eastmincom on November 13. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)