• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
There will be no holiday ceasefire with the remnants of the New People’s Army in Visayas, Visayas Command chief Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo disclosed yesterday.
Arevalo said that they will continue their focused military operations against NPA remnants, despite an agreement between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) for peace talks to resume.
“There is no formal peace talk yet, it’s just exploratory talks,” he stressed.
With that, our focused military operation will continue, as well as our localized peace engagement with those NPA terrorists who would like to return to the folds of the law, Arevalo further said.
We will adhere to our mandate of ending the local communist armed conflict here in the Visayas, he further stressed.
In the islands of Negros, Panay, and Bohol, six of the nine NPA guerilla fronts have been declared as dismantled by the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, among them are the Bohol Party Committee, Northern Negros Front, South East Front, Central Negros 1 and 2 guerilla fronts, all in Negros Island.
On the other hand, the South West Front in Negros Island, and the Central and Southern Front in Panay island have been also declared as “weakened” guerilla fronts, according to regional Army spokesman Lt. Col. J Jay Javines.
In a statement, Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, 3rd Infantry Division commander, who supervises internal security operations in Western and Central Visayas, said the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders resulted in the significant accomplishments of the 3ID campaign to end local armed conflict in the two regions.
We are committed to sustain these gains and become even more relentless in bringing down the CTG (communist terrorist group), not only in Negros Island but throughout Western and Central Visayas, Sison said.
While fresh peace negotiations are a welcome development, National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año also said he is not in favor of a suspension of military operations (SOMO), or a ceasefire, during the Christmas and New Year holidays, noting that the NPA also continue their anti-government operations during the holidays.
In previous years, SOMO lasted more than two weeks.
The Communist Party of the Philippines, political wing of the NPA, is marking its 55th founding anniversary on Dec. 26.*