By Priam Nepomuceno

DEVASTATING LOSSES. Three of the 25 fighters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army who surrendered to the Philippine Army in Eastern Samar pose with the firearms they yielded to the authorities. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is keeping a tight watch despite the two-day unilateral ceasefire declared by the CPP for its 55th anniversary on Dec. 26, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Viscom PIO)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is keeping a tight watch despite the two-day unilateral ceasefire declared by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for its 55th anniversary on Dec. 26.

AFP Public Affairs Office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said Monday that even with the ceasefire, which started 12:01 Monday and will end 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, harassments to create disturbance or noise are expected.

“We will be watchful and our operations will continue unabated to keep our communities safe and end the communist armed conflict, once and for all. The defeat of this threat aligns with the collective wish of all Filipinos,” Trinidad said in a message to reporters.

Trinidad described as “empty statement” the declared unilateral ceasefire, saying that the insurgents do not have the leadership and support of the masses.

“Their ammunition are depleted and their members, supporters included, are surrendering,” Trinidad said, noting that the NPA’s capability to plan and stage attacks have been diminished.

“Nonetheless, our forces on the ground were already warned and are ready,” he said.

Trinidad said the ceasefire had no effect on the proposed talks between the government and National Democratic Front.

“There are no peace talks yet. But no, this is not expected to have any effect on the proposed talks, but will surely affect the NPA’s capability to stage any atrocity to our communities,” he added.

Trinidad urged remaining insurgents to return to the fold of law, saying it is better to spend time with their families this holiday season than meet the same fate of their dead comrades.

“The AFP and our partners in the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) and Task Force Balik Loob are ready to welcome them and ensure their safe and secure reintegration to mainstream society,” he said. (PNA)