OPAPP, GRP to observe ceasefire pact despite ambush

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CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Dec. 17, 2010—The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the peace negotiating panel with the communist front said Dec. 16 it is determined to make the ceasefire agreement it forge with the Maoist insurgents work despite ambush made at Northern Samar.

OPAPP remarked being “disheartened” by the “unfortunate” but “treacherous” New People’s Army’s (NPA) act in the ambush in Northern Samar that killed 10 soldiers including a 10-year-old boy.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said that the ambush mars the momentous agreement forge during the informal talks held in Hong Kong since it happened on the eve of the observance of the ceasefire agreement.

“The Philippine government would like to emphasize that in spite of this incident, and with full recognition and appreciation of the discipline and commitment of our security forces, we remain steadfast in our commitment to honor the agreed upon suspension of military operations,” Deles said in an emailed statement.

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) forged two weeks ago the ceasefire agreement to be followed by informal talks in January 2011 and the first round of formal peace negotiations in February 2011.

The GRP peace negotiating panel, on the other hand, said in another emailed statement that the ambush, which it called “treacherous attack,” only impel the panel to be steadfast in its determination to be “resolute in the observance of the ceasefire and prevent the occurrence of any other incident of violence in the duration of this period.”

The ceasefire agreement started on Dec. 16 and will end on January 5, 2011.

“Despite this treacherous attack in the eve of the observance of the ceasefires declared by both sides, we believe that the course to genuine peace is the appropriate answer to the current conflict, one which has been ongoing for the past 41 years resulting in the deaths of thousands and the misery of thousands more of our countryfolks,” the GRP peace panel said.

Around 3 p.m. on December 14, Army soldiers belonging to the 63rd Infantry Battalion were returning on foot to their temporary base in Northern Samar when they were ambushed by NPA rebels at the boundary of Las Navas and Catubig towns.

Ten soldiers, all enlisted personnel, were killed. Also killed was a civilian 10-year-old boy identified as Joven Kabe. Two other Army soldiers identified as Cpl. Ricardo Cabral and PFC Heder Pabillon were wounded in the incident. (Bong Fabe)

Statement of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles Regarding the NPA Ambush in Northern Samar

We are disheartened by news of the ambush perpetrated by elements of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) in Northern Samar that killed ten soldiers, a nine-year old boy and wounded two others. It is most unfortunate especially since it happened 2 days before the 19-day ceasefire, which has been positively welcomed by our people. Government troops were on their way back to the barracks in compliance with the declared Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) from December 16, 2010 to January 5, 2010 when they were attacked.

In this light, we would like to call on the CPP/NPA/NDF to likewise demonstrate its firm commitment and ability to uphold the conditions of the ceasefire.

We call on the civil society organizations to monitor the ceasefire. Paigtingin natin ang pagbabantay, palawakin ang pakikilahok at magkaisa sa pagsulong ng kapayapaan.

We condole with the bereaved families of the soldiers and the nine-year-old boy that were killed in this ambush. Such unprovoked attacks underscore the need to demand the highest respect for human life and the rights of all communities to peaceful and progressive co-existence.

Statement of the GRP Peace Negotiating Panel for Talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF
16 December 2010

The GRP Peace Panel views with grave concern the ambush attack perpetrated by the New People’s Army in Samar resulting in the death of ten soldiers and one child. We salute the courage of the armed forces and these soldiers as we offer our sincerest condolences to the families of the bereaved. The fact that the soldiers were on the way back to the barracks in time for the observance of the “suspension of offensive military operations” (SOMO) which starts today (December 16) up to and until January 3, 2011, was equally unfortunate.

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