Communist group has 'nothing to celebrate,' AFP says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 26) — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) marks its 50th founding year Wednesday, but the military insists the group has "nothing to celebrate."

"As far as we, peace-loving Filipinos, are concerned, the CPP-NPA-NDF has nothing to celebrate and no achievement to be proud of," the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said in a statement released on Christmas Day.

The AFP has also called for public vigilance against possible attacks by rebels on the anniversary.

It urged Filipinos to "take extra caution," saying the group's founder Joma Sison has "ordered them to escalate attacks and violence during the Christmas season."

"The threat of heightened atrocities marks another year of violence and manifests their nature as a terror group that works to undermine the government, disrupt national development, and damage public and private properties--all to the inconvenience of the Filipino people," the AFP said.

The AFP added its deployed soldiers are continuing to monitor the situation on the ground this holiday season.

Last week, the military bared that two soldiers-- along with 12 members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU)-- were held hostage by the New People's Army (NPA) in Agusan del Sur.

This was before the CPP declared a unilateral ceasefire in celebration of the holidays.

The first ceasefire was at 12:01 a.m. of December 24 to 11:59 p.m. of December 26, while the second is slated at 12:01 a.m. of December 31 to 11:59 p.m. of January 1, 2019.

A right to overthrow admin?

In his own statement, Sison slammed the President Rodrigo Duterte's "tyrannical regime." The founder noted the Filipino people has the "sovereign right" to overthrow the current administration.

"Having become a tyrant and a shameless instigator of mass murder and other grave human rights violations, Duterte is the abominable No. 1 violator of human rights and is the precise target of the Filipino people's exercise of their sovereign right to free themselves from tyranny and to undertake all necessary actions to oust him from his position," Sison wrote in his statement.

"In an attempt to confuse the situation, Duterte and his apologists claim that a political refugee like me and political consultant of the NDFP has the unenviable role of tyrant that Duterte is playing," he added.

"Despite the weakness and vulnerability of his position, Duterte has become a tyrant escalating the oppression and exploitation of the people."

Malacañang, in response, said Sison's attack against the President is yet another product of the communist leader's constant state of hallucination.

"Jose Maria Sison's long exile has dulled his senses, put him out of touch of reality and in constant state of hallucination," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

"The winds of change will [sweep] this incorrigible rebel, who is living in comfort and luxury while his comrades are in the hills, as well as those who follow him, to oblivion and will be buried in the dustbin of history," he added.

Peace advocacy group Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) meanwhile called on the President to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The group welcomed House Resolution No. 2339, which urges Duterte to resume the talks with communist groups.

"As we celebrate the day of birth of Jesus Christ, the bearer of hope, we affirm our belief that peace is possible through principled dialogue and that the peace talks are still the most viable option to attain a just and enduring peace in the country," PEPP said in a statement.

In a speech last Sunday, the country's chief executive directed his troops to "destroy" the CPP and its legal fronts.

READ: Duterte tells troops to destroy CPP, legal fronts as rebel group's 50th year nears

The government and the rebels have previously accused each other of violating ceasefires, prompting Duterte to terminate the peace talks, which were aimed at ending the communist group's 50-year insurgency.