CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Army troops encountered the New People’s Army (NPA) in Malaybalay City on Christmas Day, resulting in the death of nine rebels, three of whom were women.
Major General Jose Maria Cuerpo II, the commanding general of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, stated that the rebels seemed to be preparing for an assembly in conjunction with the anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ founding, which falls on Tuesday.
“Follow-up operations are still ongoing on Christmas day to search the remaining rebels in the two nearby barangays.” Cuerpo said.
The military actions against the rebels occurred almost three hours after the commencement of the two-day holiday ceasefire declared by the Communist Party of the Philippines at “0001 hours on December 25.”
Anayron emphasized that precautions were taken to protect nearby communities during the operation. Efforts were made to prevent endangering residents and causing damage to farmers’ properties.
“We utilized air support and artillery howitzers mainly to preserve our forces and prevent or minimize casualty to our troops during the initial encounter between the rebels.” Anayron said.
Peace advocates in the area welcomed the Communist parties’ announcement of a two-day ceasefire. They viewed it as a positive step towards resolving the long-standing insurgency conflict in the country.
Bishop Felixberto Calang of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform highlighted the importance of the two-day ceasefire declared by the communists. They encouraged the government to respond with sincerity.
“This initiative hopefully builds confidence for the peace talks to proceed.” Calang said.
Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Emeritus Antonio Ledesma expressed the view that it would be beneficial for the government to actively pursue a mutual ceasefire arrangement as a prelude to engaging in peace discussions with the communist insurgents.
On November 28, the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), representing the political wing of the communist party, reached an agreement signaling their commitment to a principled and peaceful resolution of the longstanding conflict between the two entities.
The Philippine Air Force conducted the attack on the rebels in Sitio Kiito, Barangay Can-ayan, just seven kilometers from Malaybalay City at 3 am on Monday, December 25.