Duterte declares ceasefire with communist rebels
Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental—Malacañang on Sunday night, December 22, 2019, said President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has declared a ceasefire with communist rebels for the Christmas season.
Malacañang said Duterte declared the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire in response to the earlier announcement of the National Democratic Front that it would suspend operations against the military for the holidays.
“The President wishes that all Filipinos enjoy quietude and serenity as they celebrate the Holiday Season with their loved ones free from violence or any form of disruption,” the Malacañang statement, signed by spokesperson Salvador Panelo, said.
The ceasefire is to take effect nationwide from 12 am of December 23, 2019 until 11:59 pm of January 7, 2020.
Duterte directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to relay the ceasefire declaration to all its units nationwide.
Malacañang said President Duterte also ordered the reconstitution of the government peace panel to show its sincerity to a possible resumption of peace talks with the communist rebels.
President Duterte ended the peace talks with the communist rebels in 2017 and ordered the military to crush the rebels before his term ends on 2022.
Religious leaders welcomed the ceasefire declared by the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
“It’s a very positive step towards peace,” Balay Mindanao Chair Charlito Manlupig, said.
Manlupig said a ceasefire if honored by both parties can be a major step of a possible resumption of peace talks.
Bishop Felixberto Calang of Iglesia Filipina Independente(IFI) hopes that both sides will honor the ceasefire.
Balay Mindanaw and IFI are in the forefront of Mindanao organizations calling for both sides to go back to the negotiating tables and end the 50-year bloodshed.
Earlier, the Communist Party of the Philippines Central Committee declared a ceasefire and called all its guerilla units nationwide to suspend military operations.
The party said their ceasefire order shall take effect after the government of the Philippines issues the Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension of Police Operations (SOPO) to all its units nationwide.
Once the ceasefire takes effect, the party directed all New People’s Army (NPA) units to cease and desist from carrying out offensive operations against units and personnel of the AFP, PNP and its paramilitary units.
The party, however, urged its rebel forces to maintain a high degree of vigilance against any hostile actions or movements contrary to the ceasefire order.
“Active-defense operations shall be undertaken only in the face of clear and imminent danger and actual armed attack by hostile forces,” the CPP ceasefire order said. /bmjo
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