Philippines rejects Christmas ceasefire with Communist rebels

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Manila, Dec 20 (IANS) The Philippines on Thursday ruled out a traditional Christmas ceasefire with rebels of the left-wing New People’s Army (NPA) after the insurgents kidnapped two soldiers and 12 members of a paramilitary force, officials said.

The Philippines Army personnel were abducted by the NPA on Wednesday at dawn in Agusan del Sur on the Mindanao island.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government would not be “fooled” by the rebels’ offer of a ceasefire during the Christmas and New Year holidays, Efe news reported, citing state news agency PNA.

The Philippine Army also condemned the rebels for a landmine attack in the Northern Samar province on Tuesday, which wounded four soldiers and two civilians.

“This incident shows that communist NPA terrorists are not sincere of their offered unilateral truce this Christmas season because their plan is in contrast with what is happening,” the military said.

The NPA defended the attacks in-spite of the unilateral ceasefire, which it announced on December 7, six months after the last peace negotiations with the government broke down.

“The recent NPA offensives do not violate the CPP’s unilateral declaration of temporary ceasefire which shall take effect on December 24 to 26 and December 31 to January 1 next year,” the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the political wing of the NPA, said in a statement on Thursday.

“The Party calls on the NPA to mount more tactical offensives in the next few weeks and months to defeat (President Rodrigo) Duterte’s all-out war,” the statement added.

The NPA was established in 1969 to support the CPP and has since engaged in an armed struggle that has led to more than 40,000 deaths.

With more than 6,000 regular fighters, the rebel group is listed as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU.

–IANS

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