Philippines leftist rebels declare ceasefire for Christmas

Manila, Dec 15 (IANS) The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Tuesday announced a 12-day unilateral ceasefire to mark Christmas and New Year, ordering guerrilla units to halt offensive operations.

The rebel truce — which starts at 12.01 a.m. local time on December 23 and ends at 11.59 p.m. on January 3, 2016 — was announced by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni in a statement.

The NDFP has been representing the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), in peace negotiations with the government. Formal talks between the NDFP and the government remain stalled over the past many years, Xinhua news agency reported.

Jalandoni said the truce, declared by the CPP on the recommendation of the NDFP, will be observed “in solidarity with the Filipino people’s traditional celebrations of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.”

During the truce, Jalandoni said NPA units and militias “shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military operations against the armed units and personnel” of the armed forces of the Philippines, Philippines National Police and other paramilitary and armed groups affiliated with the government.

The communist truce is longer than the Christmas and New Year ceasefire they declared last year — December 24-26 for Christmas and December 31-January 1 for New Year. The CPP also observed a truce from January 15-19 for the visit of Pope Francis.

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