October 16, 2009 / 5:48 AM / 10 years ago

Army, rebels impose truce in typhoon-hit Philippines

MANILA, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Maoist rebels in the Philippines have extended a unilateral ceasefire with government troops to help rebuild areas hit by typhoons where more than 760 people died in landslides and floods, a rebel spokesman said on Friday.

Security forces also said they had also redirected efforts from internal security to clear roads and deliver food and relief material.

A spokesman for Communist guerrillas, Martin Montano, posted a statement on the Maoist website www.philippinerevolution.net saying the insurgents had declared a seven-day ceasefire to help rebuild communities.

The rebels had already imposed a unilateral ceasefire last month in the central Bicol region and areas south of Manila after Typhoon Ketsana inundated 80 percent of the capital region.

A military spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Romeo Brawner, said troops were distributing relief supplies in the northern region on the main island of Luzon.

"We’re suspending internal security operations to focus on recovery, relief and rehabilitation efforts in landslide and flood-hit areas in the north," he said.

Wide areas in the northern Philippines remain inaccessible due to the landslides set off by rains from Typhoon Parma. With power, communications and transport still to be restored these areas can only be reached by helicopter or days of trekking.

The two typhoons in as many weeks destroyed at least 18.4 billion pesos ($400 million) in crops and fisheries and about 6.6 billion pesos worth of infrastructure. (Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Ron Popeski)

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