BOTH the Department of National Defense and the Department of 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 to address threats posed by leftist rebels during the Yuletide Season.
“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 the society.
“We’ll provide them all the benefits and opportunities to become productive peaceful citizens,” he said.
Defense Sec. 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 while President Duterte has again aired his decision to explore anew the possibility of resuming peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF.
According to Sec. 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 unleased 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 Sec. 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,” Sec. Lorenzana explained.