NPA declares 1-week ceasefire in typhoon-hit Bicol region

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 6) — Communist rebels in the Bicol region have declared a week-long unilateral ceasefire to give way for the delivery of aid to typhoon-ravaged areas.

The New People's Army, particularly its Romulo Jallores Command Bagong Hukbong Bayan - Bikol, in a statement on Friday said its members will not attack government forces from December 6 to 12.

"Hindi maglulunsad ng taktikal na opensiba sa panahong saklaw ng tigil-putukan, ngunit mapagpasyang haharapin ng mga yunit ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan sa buong rehiyon ang mga patraydor na operasyong militar upang ipagtanggol ang sarili sa tiyak na kapahamakan," the group said in a statement.

[Translation: We will not launch tactical offensives during the period of the ceasefire, but the units of Bagong Hukbong Bayan in the entire region will defend themselves from danger when traitors in the military conduct operations.]

The NPA called on the government to send help to the residents affected by Typhoon Tisoy, which left a trail of destruction in Bicol. Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Albay, and Naga City have all declared a state of calamity. Tisoy made its first two landfalls in Sorsogon and Masbate and has left at least five dead in the region. At least 13 fatalities have been reported in the entire country.

READ: ‘Tisoy’ death toll climbs to 13

"Makakaasa ang lahat na nagnanais na magpadala ng tulong sa komunidad na titiyakin ng mga yunit Kumand na makakarating sa mga masang anak-pawis ang kanilang mga padala," the NPA said.

[Translation: Those who want to send help to the communities can be assured that our unit commands will ensure the delivery of aid to the people.]

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, whose five-decade insurgency is the longest-running in Asia. President Rodrigo Duterte walked away from peace talks with communist rebels in 2017 as both sides accused each other of ceasefire violations.

There is renewed hope for the resumption of peace negotiations now after Duterte announced Thursday that he is sending Labor Secretary and former chief government negotiator Silvestre Bello III to talk to CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, who is in self-exile in the Netherlands.