Military chief dreams of truce for eternity
That is the kind of truce that Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said he wanted to hear from the communist rebels—not a ceasefire that won’t even last a week.
“They declared such a short (ceasefire). They even bothered to declare it,” Bautista said on Thursday, seemingly scoffing at Wednesday’s announcement by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
The military has not yet formally declared a suspension of offensive military operations (Somo), although Bautista has said the military will support a Somo because the people deserve a peaceful Christmas.
Bautista earlier said the declaration of a Somo would depend on the recommendation of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp).
Why not forever?
The CPP-NPA declared a holiday truce from Dec. 24 to 26 and from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2. Bautista said that amounted to practically nothing in terms of pursuing peace efforts.
Asked if he preferred that the communists declare a ceasefire lasting throughout the holiday season, Bautista said: “If they want, they can stop fighting forever.”
“Isn’t that what we want, too? Why can’t they declare a very long ceasefire, like forever?” he added.
Bautista said declaring a perpetual ceasefire would be for the benefit of the people.
“They won’t have to suffer from the armed struggle anymore. We have all suffered far too long,” Bautista said.
The Philippines has the longest-running communist insurgency in Asia. More than 120,000 people have died in the rebellion, according to unofficial estimates.