No word yet on Holy Week truce

MANILA The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it has yet to receive orders regarding the implementation of a suspension of military operations (SOMO) against the New People's Army (NPA) this Holy Week.

"The SOMO is a political decision vested upon the political leadership. The AFP is yet to receive orders to suspend offensive military operations against the NPA," AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Emmanuel Garcia said late Monday.

He issued this statement following alleged reports that NPA forces have declared that they will be suspending offensives and other attacks against government troops and facilities during Lent.

The AFP official added that the alleged declaration is suspicious as it was only announced by an alleged spokesman of an NPA guerilla front whose coverage is less than a province; and was merely signed by someone from one of the rebels' regional organ.

"We believe that such unusual declaration by the NPA is another ploy to deceive the security forces, the government and especially the people so that the government will be forced to declare SOMO in order for them to reconstitute forces, recruit new members, extort money, and rest from the unceasing focused military operation of the AFP," Garcia stressed.

The AFP public affairs office chief said that the ceasefire pronouncements by the NPAs are nothing but a desperate attempt of the rebel group to gain the moral high ground.

"By seizing the opportunity to paint religiosity in their organization while the basic principle of communism by which their fake revolution is anchored, does not believe in God and reject religion," he added.

Incidentally, the NPA's 49th founding anniversary on March 29 will fall on Maundy Thursday this year.

Anniversary celebrations of the rebels are usually marked by violent attacks against government forces and civilian communities.

"The CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front) can show their sincerity by doing the right thing by stopping all forms of violent activities and atrocities against the people all year round," Garcia stressed.

Also, he also called on the public to be wary of the pattern of deception of the NPA terrorists; to be proactive and to be part of the conscious effort to deny them of the chance to regain strength.

"Whatever the decision of the political leadership, the AFP will follow legally mandated orders. Rest assured that our troops will continue to monitor and conduct appropriate security measures to protect the people and vulnerable communities," Garcia stressed.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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