By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang is firm to not declare a Christmas truce with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) following the collapse of the formal peace talks between the government and the Reds last month.
The Palace made the statement despite calls for the government to reconsider its decision and declare a Christmas truce with the rebels
According to Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the decision not to declare a suspension of military operations (SOMO) with the members of the NPA over the Christmas holidays stays.
“Our defenders would not stand down as there has been call on the other side to launch offensives against state forces,” Roque said in a statement this afternoon.
Roque said that if the CPP-NPA-NDF was able to launch attacks while they were talking peace with the government, it is not impossible that they will also do the same during the Yuletide season.
“The CPP-NPA is notorious for conducting treacherous attacks even when there was unilateral ceasefire in the past during which we have lost scores of our brave defenders,” he said.
The Palace official added that declaring a Christmas truce will not benefit the soldiers but said there may still be a chance for the government to reconsider this decision.
“Declaring a SOMO now is not to the nation’s best interest as it would only expose our defenders to enemy attacks and embolden them to commit more atrocities, especially during their anniversary,” Roque said.
“However, we do not discount possibilities that there may be circumstances that may arise for government to reconsider its present position,” he added.
Days before signing Proclamation no. 374 to declare them as terrorists, Duterte announced in November that he is no longer keen on declaring a Christmas truce with the communist rebels.
Last week, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo said the AFP is backing Duterte’s decision not to declare a Christmas truce with the Reds.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said the Palace will be following the Department of National Defense’s (DND’s) earlier recommendation to not declare a SOMO.
He however said he is still leaving the decision to the President who may still change his mind about it.
“So kung ano man ang sinabi ni Secretary [Delfin] Lorenzana at dahil nirekomenda kay Presidente, iyon ang susundin natin (We will follow whatever the recommendation of Secretary Lorenzana to the President is),” Andanar said in an interview over DzMM Sunday.
“Mayroon pa namang ilang araw mula ngayon hanggang Pasko, so we will see kung ano po ang magiging pasya ng ating mahal na Pangulo (There are still a few days left before Christmas, so let’s see what the decision of the President will be),” he added.