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.


Fire sweeps through Bangladesh slum, nine dead

Updated 17 February 2019
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Fire sweeps through Bangladesh slum, nine dead

  • Fires regularly break out in Bangladesh’s slums, where millions live in squalid living conditions

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh: A fire tore through a slum in southern Bangladesh on Sunday killing at least 9 people and destroying hundreds of shanty homes, police said.
The blaze broke out in the port city of Chittagong at about 3.30 A.M. and raced through the district of bamboo, tin and tarpaulin homes, said local police chief Pranab Chowdhury.
“At least 470 shanties were destroyed by the fire. So far 9 people have died. They included four members of a family,” fire brigade official Hefazatul Islam said.
Fires regularly break out in Bangladesh’s slums, where millions live in squalid living conditions.
Rights groups have in the past alleged some shanty town blazes were deliberate acts of sabotage by developers seeking to free up property to construct multi-story buildings.
“We have seen fires are used as a weapon to evict poor slum dwellers and squatters from government or private property,” rights activist Nur Khan Liton said.