Camp General Artemio Ricarte, Puerto Princesa City — Team Western Command has been celebrating the Christmas in meaningful ways and despite the forthcoming anniversary of the CPP-NPA-NDF on December 26, the Palawan-based military has not declared a red alert status among its troops for the holiday season, instead a suspension of military operations (SOMO) has been in effect.
The celebration jumstarted with a simple old Jerusalem-themed ceremonial lighting of Christmas tree inside Camp General Artemio Ricarte. WESCOM Commander Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez led his team in visiting three orphanages in Puerto Princesa City, namely: Aloha House and Friendship Home in Brgy Sta Monica and the Bahay ni Nanay in Bgy Sicsican.
“We want our troops to go back to the real meaning and spirit of Christmas. That it is Jesus Christ who is the light of the world came to save us and to give us hope. And that it is in sharing His blessings with the less privileged, especially the children, that we can find the true joy in life,” said Vice Admiral Lopez.
“We also remember our troops stationed at the Kalayaan Island Group who will not be able to spend Christmas with their families and loved ones. We hope that with our visits and simple gifts, we in the AFP and our Bayanihan partners will be able to convey to them our gratitude for their sacrifices for our country and people,” he added.
Further recognizing the importance of the Yuletide season, WESCOM suspends deliberate offensive operations against the NPA to respect the sacred opportunity to celebrate peace and prosperity. Despite internal conflicts with the NPA, WESCOM believes that the spirit Christmas and New Year brings unity towards a common goal of stability and harmony, and hopes that peace will be given a fair chance by all parties.
The month-long SOMO takes effect on midnight of December 18.
In spite of conflicts with the insurgent group, the SOMO demonstrates the commitment, sincerity and resolve for peace of WESCOM in particular, and the whole AFP in general. The ceasefire aims to provide our soldiers and villagers in conflict-affected areas an opportunity to celebrate the yuletide in peace with their families.
In consideration of possible atrocities and incidents from other security threats, however, WESCOM in partnership with law enforcement and local government agencies will continue to support civil authorities, government instrumentalities and other agencies in their mandates for peace and security, development, environmental protection programs, humanitarian assistance programs, and disaster relief operations.
WESCOM continues to urge the NPA rebels to put down their firearms, resolve conflicting issues through peaceful means and avail the local social integration program (LSIP). With the support and partnership of the local government units of the province, other local government agencies, civil societies, non-government organizations and individual civilians, the LSIP will help facilitate the integration of the rebel returnees in the mainstream society and start normal lives anew with their families and loved ones.-End