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.

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In the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan slamming into the Philippines, relief organizations are calling on Americans to donate funds to their efforts.

UNICEF staff in the Philippines is being repositioned to provide emergency aid and the organization is gearing up to deliver supplies to children and their families. Donations can be made online or by texting RELIEF to 864233 to donate $10.

CARE teams are on the ground in the Philippines and the organization plans to provide emergency relief to thousands of families. Donations can be made online or by calling 1-800-521-CARE within the U.S. or +1-404-681-2552.

World Vision is mobilizing nearly 500 staff around the country to respond to the disaster. Donations are accepted online and the organization also lets you sponsor a child in the Philippines.

• The American Red Cross has volunteers spread throughout the region and accepts donations online. You can also mail a check to your local American Red Cross chapter designating Philippines Typhoons and Flood in the memo line.

• The U.N. World Food Programme is urging Americans to make donations to support its emergency food relief after Typhoon Haiyan. You can donate online or by texting the word AID to 27722 to donate $10.

AmeriCares is deploying medical aid and a relief team to Philippines, and says an emergency shipment with enough medical aid for 20,000 survivors is already on its way.

• The Philippine Red Cross has deployed staff and volunteers across the region. You can easily make a donation through organization's website.

• To donate to the Salvation Army's Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts, visit its website or text TYPHOON to 80888 to donate $10 and reply YES to confirm your donation. The organization uses 100% of all disaster donations in support of disaster relief.

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