Philippine army declares yuletide truce with rebels
MANILA - The Philippine military on Saturday declared an 18-day Christmas ceasefire with communist rebels and urged the guerrillas to respect the truce.
The unilateral truce would take effect Sunday and end January 2, the armed forces chief of staff, General Jessie Dellosa, said.
The ceasefire would cover "deliberate offensive operations" against the New People's Army, the communist movement's armed wing, Dellosa said.
But troops would continue their patrols and humanitarian aid programmes, he said.
Last year, communist rebels killed five soldiers in an attack in the southern province of Surigao del Sur five hours after the start of the military's Christmas ceasefire.
"We hope that past transgressions and violations committed by the rebels that stained the holidays with violence will not happen again this year," Dellosa said.
Communist rebels have been fighting the Philippine government since the late 1960s, making the movement one of the longest-running leftist insurgencies in Asia.
The guerrillas declared a 29-day humanitarian truce in the southern provinces affected by Typhoon Bopha, which has killed at least 955 people.