Communist rebels say they will attack government forces conducting peace and development operations despite the unilateral order of President Benigno Aquino III for the suspension of military and police operations (SOMO) against the New People’s Army.
In press statement, Jorge Madlos a.k.a. Ka Oris said, “We wish to point out and clarify that the NDFP-Mindanao considers the COPD and other similar military operations as part of the offensive military operations of Philippine Army units, and are, therefore, legitimate military targets of the New People’s Army (NPA).”
Ka Oris is the Mindanao spokesman of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political umbrella of the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) which is marking its 46th anniversary on December 26.
Madlos was reacting to the statement of the spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division who allegedly said community organizing for peace and development (COPD) operations of military units will; continue in the countryside during the month-long SOMO.
The rebel spokesman did not identify the military spokesperson.
Aquino on Wednesday ordered a unilateral ceasefire that will begin midnight Thursday (December 18) and will end midnight of January 19, shortly after Pope Francis leaves the country following a 4-day official visit.
Limited rebel ceasefire
The CPP on the other hand also announced a limited ceasefire which will cover from12:01 am of December 24, 2014 to 11:59 pm of December 26, 2014; 12:01 am of December 31, 2014 to 11:59 pm of January 1, 2015; and 12:01 am of January 15, 2015 to 11:59 pm of January 19, 2015.
Madlos earlier said Mindanao is now bearing the brunt of wide-scale military operations in the countryside.
“In Mindanao, 60 battalions of the Philippine Army and Marines have been deployed, including the Light Reaction Battalion,” Madlos said.
He also claimed that 60 percent of the armed strength of the AFP is now deployed in the island, majority of it in known NPA strongholds.
Heavily affected by the military operations is the Davao region where an average of daily armed encounters between the military and the NPAs are occurring over the last 2 months, according to Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Aurelio Balabad.
Lt. Gen Baladad said 53 percent of the 4,600 NPAs throughout the country are in Mindanao with the eastern part of the island – particularly in Caraga and Davao regions – hosting the most number of NPA guerrilla fronts and armed regulars.
The Eastmincom chief said eastern Mindanao alone has 1,996 fully armed rebels “as of the third quarter of this year.”
Baladad also disclosed that there are 33 NPA guerrilla fronts under his area of responsibility, or more than 63 percent of the rebel fronts in Mindanao.