Reds offer truce in typhoon-hit areas
MANILA - Philippine communist guerrillas offered to suspend attacks in typhoon-hit areas Thursday, as the military led efforts to look for hundreds of missing from a disaster that claimed nearly 500 lives.
"In light of the urgent humanitarian considerations, the (New People's Army) can suspend offensive military operations... for a period of time," the rebel group's parent organisation the Communist Party of the Philippines said.
A rebel statement said its forces would "raise funds, seek donations and contributions" for Typhoon Bopha's victims on the southern island of Mindanao, while its armed guerrillas would help in the relief work.
In reaction, military spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Burgos, said "if they really want peace and stability for our country for unhampered progress and development, they should abandon armed violence".
The armed forces are at the forefront of rescue and relief efforts after Tuesday's disaster, which killed 477 people and forced 250,000 others to seek shelter at government evacuation centres after losing everything.
The military estimates the NPA's current strength at about 4,000 fighters nationwide, significantly down from more than 26,000 at its peak in the 1980s.
The communists have been waging a rebellion since 1969, and more than 30,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the government.
The government opened peace talks with the CPP but negotiations were suspended in November last year due to continued rebel demands for the release of jailed comrades they claimed were consultants to the negotiations.