Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya has ordered the suspension of military operations against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front in line with President Duterte’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire with the rebels during his State-of-the-Nation Address last Monday.
“AFP Chief of Staff Ricardo Visaya directs all Commanders of Unified Commands, Major Services, and AFP-Wide Service Support Units to observe (the) SOMO against the CPP-NPA-NDF effective July 25,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said.
“The SOMO covers the cessation of all military offensives against the CPP-NPA-NDF, particularly its armed group the New People’s Army, including the conduct of combat maneuvers that may be construed as provocative acts that may be deemed violative of the SOMO,” Visaya said in his order.
Despite the SOMO, Arevalo said the military continues to perform its mandate of protecting the communities and its people from terrorist groups, secure and protect from attacks or sabotage vital government facilities, military camps, infrastructures, and projects.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana welcomed the President’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire but said that they will not let their guards down.
Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Ano also welcomed the ceasefire declared in an effort to finally reach a lasting peace agreement with the rebels.
“We’ll do our part in the quest of finding a permanent peaceful resolution of this conflict. While we stop the conduct of offensive military operations, the Army will continue will continue to serve its mandate through all other activities to ensure the protection and safety of the people and to ensure the protection and safety of the people and contribute in community development as well assist in the government’s fight against drug syndicates,” Ano said. (PNA and Francis T. Wakefield)