Gov’t declares unilateral 4-day truce
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Malacañang has declared a four-day unilateral suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) with communist guerrillas during the Christmas holidays, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Tuesday.
The SOMO with the New People’s Army ( NPA) will be effective from December 24 to 25 and from December 31 to January 1, Ermita told reporters at the Palace.
This year’s holiday SOMO is shorter than last year’s, which ran for 22 days — from December 16 to January 6. Last year, the NPA also declared a SOMO — from December 24 to 25 and from December 31 to January 1.
Ermita said troops would remain “on alert” even while the SOMO was in effect, and especially on December 26, when the NPA, the guerrilla arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), celebrates its 40th anniversary.
“We are on alert… The important thing is that our soldiers, policemen and CAFGU [Civilian Armed Forces Geographic Unit] are in place while there is a SOMO,” he said.
Efforts to restart peace talks between the government and the political arm of the CPP, the National Democratic Front (NDF), fell through in late November after both parties failed to agree on how to implement a ceasefire.
Peace negotiations bogged down in mid-2004 after the rebels pulled out in protest of the government’s alleged inaction to remove them from the terrorist listings of the United States and the European Union.
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