Philippine rebels declare holiday truce, government says won’t be fooled

Rebel attacks have stifled growth in resource-rich areas in the poor Southeast Asian country as guerrillas target mines, plantations, construction and telecommunication companies, demanding “revolutionary taxation” to finance their fight. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2018
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Philippine rebels declare holiday truce, government says won’t be fooled

  • Guerrillas from the Communist Party of the Philippines have been battling government forces for 50 years, in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies
  • Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana rejected the offer, saying that for the first time in 30 years, the government would not suspend offensive military operations over the holidays

MANILA: Maoist rebels in the Philippines declared a cease-fire on Friday for the Christmas and New Year holidays, but the government said it would not be fooled into joining the truce.
Guerrillas from the Communist Party of the Philippines have been battling government forces for 50 years, in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.
The party said in a statement it would suspend attacks on the military from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26 “in unity with the Filipino people’s observance of traditional holidays.”
Most people in the Philippines are Christian.
The rebels also declared a New Year cease-fire from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1.
But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana rejected the offer, saying that for the first time in 30 years, the government would not suspend offensive military operations over the holidays.
“We’re fooling ourselves about this cease-fire,” Lorenzana told reporters.
“What for? To give them freedom to regroup and to refurbish so that after the cease-fire, we’ll be fighting again.”
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said government forces did not want to give the rebels the opportunity to “propagandize,” and would not stop combat operations.
The rebel forces, estimated to number 3,000 fighters, have been waging a guerrilla war in rural areas for nearly 50 years in a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.
Rebel attacks have stifled growth in resource-rich areas in the poor Southeast Asian country as guerrillas target mines, plantations, construction and telecommunication companies, demanding “revolutionary taxation” to finance their fight.
Since 1986, the government has been holding on-again, off-again talks with Maoist rebels, brokered by Norway, but President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped negotiations last year due to rebel attacks and taxation.


Version of PM May’s deal can get through parliament: Hunt

Updated 15 December 2018
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Version of PM May’s deal can get through parliament: Hunt

  • May pulled a vote on her deal this week after acknowledging it would be heavily defeated over concerns about the divorce agreement’s “backstop”

LONDON: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday that the British parliament could back Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal if lawmakers received assurances from the European Union, but warned that a no deal Brexit was still on the table.
May pulled a vote on her deal this week after acknowledging it would be heavily defeated over concerns about the divorce agreement’s “backstop,” an insurance policy designed to avoid any hard land border for Ireland but which critics say could bind Britain to EU rules indefinitely.
“When the dust has settled, the only way we’re going to get this through the House of Commons ... is to have a version of the deal that the government has negotiated,” Hunt told BBC radio.
Following a summit in Brussels on Friday, May said it was possible that the EU could give further guarantees that the backstop would be temporary although the bloc’s other 27 leaders told her they would not renegotiate the treaty.
Hunt said the EU was likely to make concessions to avoid Britain leaving without any deal, a scenario that both sides say would be highly damaging for business and their economies.
“The EU cannot be sure that if they choose not to be helpful and flexible ... that we would not end up with no deal,” Hunt said. “We cannot in these negotiations take no deal off the table. I don’t think the EU could be remotely sure that if we don’t find a way through this we wouldn’t end up with no deal.”
The Times newspaper reported on Saturday that most of May’s senior ministerial team thought her deal was dead and were discussing a range of options including a second referendum.
“Brexit is in danger of getting stuck – and that is something that should worry us all,” pensions minister Amber Rudd wrote in the Daily Mail newspaper.
“If MPs (lawmakers) dig in against the Prime Minister’s deal and then hunker down in their different corners, none with a majority, the country will face serious trouble.”