MANILA - The Philippines declared on Saturday an 18-day unilateral Christmas truce with Maoist guerrillas, in part to let forces focus on relief efforts on a southern island devastated by a typhoon, an army spokesman said.
The government has been fighting communist rebels for 40 years. About 40,000 people have been killed and investors have been scared away from poor but resource-rich rural regions.
A December 4 typhoon killed 955 people and nearly 850 are missing, most in the provinces of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, on Mindano island, where communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels are active.
Both the army and rebels are involved in relief operations in the area and they declared informal truces on December 10.