Palace: No Christmas ceasefire with NPA
Malacañang Palace stands pat on its decision not to declare a Christmas truce with the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
In a statement issued on Sunday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said there would be no yuletide suspension of military operations (Somo) as the NPA had a track record of launching “treacherous” attacks.
“The decision not to declare a suspension of military operations (Somo) with the members of the New People’s Army over the Christmas holidays stays,” Roque said. “Our defenders would not stand down as there has been call on the other side to launch offensives against state forces.”
Roque said that the insurgents had launched attacks before even when there was a ceasefire declared between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA.
“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,” Roque said.
“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 attrocities, especially during their anniversary,” he said. “However, we do not discount possibilities that there may be circumstances that may arise for government to reconsider its present position.”
On Dec. 5, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a proclamation declaring the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations and vowed to go after their legal fronts.
Last week, Duterte said he was also open to expanding martial law across the nation if communists rebels would try to overthrow the government.
He also said he would use the the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao to decimate the communist insurgents , warning that he would use helicopter gunships to go after NPA members for target practice.
“At this time, all options are on the table,” the President said in a media briefing in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.
“There is only one rationale there – the existence of the Republic. You threaten the existence of the Republic of the Philippines, I am sure that everybody will… do what we must do to prevent it,” he said.
Congress had approved Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao until Dec. 31, 2018 due to the threat posed by Islamic State-inspired terrorists and the NPA. /atm