BOTH the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government have rejected a Christmas truce with the New People’s Army and ordered the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police to take all extra measures against threats posed by leftist rebels during Yuletide.
“No. I will not recommend a ceasefire,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año although he added that the government would welcome rebels who will decide to surrender to authorities and return to the mainstream of society.
“We’ll provide them all the benefits and opportunities to become productive peaceful citizens,” he said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also said he would not recommend a ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA, as the latter continues to commit illegal activities such as extortion.
He explained however that the government could agree to a Yuletide truce in the event the NPA stops their atrocities in the countryside.
The two top security officials rejected a Christmas ceasefire with the NPA even as President Duterte has again moved to explore anew the possibility of resuming peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF.
According to Secretary Lorenzana, a ceasefire would only be taken advantage of by the rebels to recruit more members. He added there would be no let-up in intensified military offensive against the rebels.
Officials said that more rebels have been yielding to security officials fearing the more powerful bombs being unleashed against them by the military.
“No. We will not recommend a ceasefire. Let us just not resort to a ceasefire. Usually if there’s a ceasefire, the soldiers go back to their barracks because the operations are stopped. But the rebels deceitfully work their way to villages to increase their power,” said Lorenzana.
According to the Defense chief, the Communist Party of the Philippines in 2018 also declared a unilateral ceasefire and ordered the NPA to refrain from their usual activities. However, despite the order, NPA guerrillas continued attacking government targets during the period.
“We are the only ones who follow the ceasefire,” he said. “All of us, even in the military, support the President. But what I want to say to Mr. Sison is that he should also be sincere. The President has always said that peace talks will always have a place in his governance,” Lorenzana said.
All police forces nationwide were ordered to be on heightened alert and maintain their vigilance needed to thwart surprise New People’s Army attacks and other atrocities as the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26.
According to PNP spokesman Brigadier General Bernard M. Banac, police must not to lower their guard since NPA guerrillas historically are known for launching atrocities during their anniversaries.
“Traditionally, over the past decades and years, ang Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army ay naglulunsad ng mga bagong pag-atake laban sa pwersa ng pamahalaan sa tuwing sumasapit ang kanilang founding anniversary,” he said.
“Itong mga ganitong petsa ay binabantayan din ng PNP at tayo ay may direktiba na sa lahat ng police units natin ang kanilang pagtataas ng alert level nang sa gayon ay ‘di malusutan o maaatake ang police stations,” Banac added.