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Rebels attack military detachments in Sorsogon

Members of the New People's Army attacked two military detachments in Sorsogon on Saturday, hours after the Yuletide ceasefire with the rebels took effect.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan said the rebel attacks in Casiguran and Gubat towns occurred Saturday dawn, shortly after government forces began observing the 26-day Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO).

“They opened fire on our detachments, knowing that we are not on offensive operations. We returned fire and they withdrew,” Tutaan said.

There were no reported injuries or deaths from the government side during the encounter. Tutaan added that government troops were not able to determine if there were casualties inflicted on the rebels who withdrew.

The government truce was announced by Malacanang officials last Friday, shortly after the military commemorated its 78th foundation anniversary. The government truce is shorter compared to last year’s SOMO which lasted from December 16 to January 15.

The NPA will be observing their holiday truce on December 24, 25, 26, 31, January 1 and 2.

Tutaan believes that the rebels are taunting the soldiers to launch offensive military operations so that they can be charged of violating the SOMO.

He added that the military is bent on implementing the truce despite the rebel attacks.

Tutaan chastised the rebels for not including the civilians in their upcoming ceasefire. He noted that the rebel truce is limited only to government troops, which means that they can still attack civilian targets.

“Look at what they declared, it's only against the military and the police but they are not saying they are not going to harass civilian (targets). It's because this is where they earn money,” the official said.

The NPA is known to harass companies and other civilians if they fail to pay revolutionary "tax."

Tutaan assured that government troops will exert efforts to ensure the safety of the civilians during the ceasefire.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines criticized AFP chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista for ridiculing the six-day rebel truce.

Bautista said Thursday that the rebel truce was too short as he proposed that the NPA should implement a ceasefire that last "forever" to stop the suffering of the people affected by the insurgency.

“To declare a ceasefire ‘to last forever’ will only bring forth an eternal hell of military abuses, land-grabbing and environmental destruction,” the CPP said in a statement.

“General Bautista’s proposals are moronic, to say the least. Such thoughtless remarks reflect the AFP’s inability to understand the deep-seated reasons behind the Filipino people’s armed resistance and view the civil war only from the myopic perspective of a one track-minded fascist,” the CPP added.

The CPP also said the peasants, the fisherfolk and the minority indigenous people will be affected once they agree to a long-lasting ceasefire.

“To muzzle the guns of the NPA is to surrender the schools, the clinics, the farms and the peace which the peasant masses have established through their new democratic government that has been built on the people’s collective strength,” it said.

“Where the Aquino regime and the reactionary state and its armed forces are weak and practically non-existent, organs of the people’s democratic government are being established to serve the interests of the poor peasants, indigenous peoples and fisherfolk,” the CPP added.



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