FOLLOWING the declaration of the New People’s Army (NPA) to end the unilateral ceasefire, members of the Police Regional Office in the Cordillera are now on alert against possible attacks from the rebel groups.
The NPA’s ceasefire declaration ends on Friday, February 10 at 11:59 p.m., according to an official release of the revolutionary movement Wednesday.
"The peace talk has bogged down, so when you go back to your assigned units, the condition will be a lot different, especially to the commanders, I want you to exercise extreme caution and observe highest level of security," PRO-Cor regional director Chief Superintendent Elmo Francis Sarona said.
Kalinga Province and newly promoted Senior Superintendent Brent Madjaco said that since operations on illegal drugs were suspended, the police might shift their activities on anti-criminality and anti-insurgency.
"We do not see threats yet or danger, but normally, we still have to consider it serious, because initially, we have to see the security of our personnel and our stations.
Meanwhile, youth group Anakbayan Cordillera denounced the “utter insincerity” of the Philippine government (GRP) to fulfill its commitments to the peace negotiations, saying this resulted in the termination of the self-imposed unilateral ceasefire of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).
In a statement, Anakbayan Cordillera probed the hypocrisy of the Rodrigo Duterte government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in pursuing peace as the GRP’s promises to halt its military offensives against the NPA and to release all political prisoners were not made at all.
Luke Bagangan, secretary-general of Anakbayan Cordillera, scored the government’s inaction on continuous military operations of AFP in territories governed by the revolutionary movement despite GRP’s own ceasefire declaration.
“We have monitored several reports in which the AFP intentionally defied its own ceasefire pronouncement,” Bagangan said.
“The AFP is even seen taking advantage of the NPA-imposed ceasefire by conducting hostile military offensives and surveillance in the countryside,” he explained.
Towards the end of the third round of peace talks in Rome, Italy, the NPA disclosed that firefights broke out in in two Cotabato towns after offensives launched by the AFP’s 39th and 71st Infantry Battalions (IB) on January 21 and January 26, respectively.
In addition, a commemoration of the International Human Rights Day last December 10 in Lubuagan, Kalinga was disrupted by troops of the 50th IB.
Locals and other organizations had earlier demanded the Army to leave communities in Balbalan, Lubuagan, and Pinukpuk, after several cases of abuse, harassment, and encampment inside schools and village centers.
Citing the said violations, Bagangan called the military “peace saboteurs” who should be stripped off their masks.
“While masquerading as peacekeepers and implementers of government programs in the countryside, the AFP simply aims to provoke the revolutionary movement to war,” he added.
The youth group also said that the government’s failure to release all political prisoners may further put in grave question the Duterte administration’s seriousness in advancing the peace negotiations.
As listed by the CPP, only around 20 from a total of 434 political prisoners have been released.