18 December 2015

President Aquino approves holiday truce with communist rebels
President Benigno S. Aquino III has approved the recommendation of the Department of National Defense for the unilateral declaration of the Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) against the New People’s Army (NPA) for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The SOMO will commence at 12:01 a.m. of December 23, 2015 and would end at 11:59 p.m. of January 3, 2016, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Friday.

Last December 15, the defense department recommended that President Aquino approve a SOMO against communist insurgents.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has already declared a 12-day holiday ceasefire in support of calls to resume the stalled peace talks with the government.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said the truce would take effect from December 23, 2015 to January 3, 2016. The NDFP negotiates with the government on behalf of the CPP and its political arm, the NPA.

The ceasefire order was issued in solidarity with the Filipino people’s traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year holidays, the NDFP said.

The ceasefire will also allow its forces to carry out mass assemblies and public demonstrations to mark the 47th anniversary of the CPP and celebrate revolutionary victories of the past year, it said, adding that the move is also in support of efforts of peace advocates to foster the resumption of the peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP. PND (as)

President Aquino declares state of calamity to hasten relief, rehabilitation in typhoon-hit areas
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday issued Proclamation 1186, declaring a state of national calamity in the aftermath of Typhoon Nona that hit the Visayas and Bicol regions.

President Aquino signed the proclamation on December 18, declaring a state of national calamity after Typhoon Nona (international code name: Melor) left a trail of destruction, substantial damage and deaths in the provinces of Albay, Northern Samar, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, and Sorsogon.

The declaration of the state of national calamity will hasten the rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation efforts of the government and the private sector, the proclamation read.

It will also effectively control the prices of basic goods and commodities for the affected areas and continue the provision of basic services to affected residents.

With the issuance of the proclamation, all government agencies have been directed to implement and execute rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation works in accordance with the government’s operational plans.

All agencies have also been mandated to coordinate efforts to provide basic services and facilities to affected localities.

“Law enforcement agencies, with support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, are hereby directed to undertake all necessary measures to ensure peace and order in affected areas, as may be necessary,” the President said in the proclamation.

The state of calamity will remain in force and in effect until lifted by the President. PND (as)