President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
(ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
The President made the announcement during the Christmas Party with his Cabinet members held at the Malago clubhouse in Malacañang Tuesday night.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the 10-day suspension of military operations (SOMO) from December 24, 2017 to January 2, 2018 aims to give the public a peace of mind while celebrating the Yuletide Season.
“This unilateral ceasefire would lessen the apprehension of the public this Christmas season. We expect that the CPP-NPA-NDFP would do a similar gesture of goodwill,” Roque said in a statement Wednesday.
“Christmas holds a special place in the hearts of our countrymen. In the observance of this occasion, we hope that all Filipinos would stand together as one nation and aspire for peace in our beloved Philippines,” he added.
Roque also said that, as seconded by the Department of National Defense (DND), the SOMO only pertains to combat operations.
Earlier, the President announced that he will not declare a SOMO days before the collapse of the peace talks with the communist rebels. He later declared the communist groups as terrorist organizations.
However on Tuesday night, the President said that if he were to declare a ceasefire, it would be for the Filipino people and not for the communist rebels.
“If I declare a ceasefire, it is not addressed to the NPAs. Rather, I would want to celebrate Christmas with the rest of humankind or Filipinos, na walang stress (sans the stress),” Duterte said.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday expressed surprise with the Chief Executive’s decision but said that they will abide with the President’s directive.
In a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Lorenzana said “I was actually adamant and was…ayaw ko sanang mag-ano (I don’t want to)… I did not recommend for the cessation of military operation against the CPP-NPA but if the President declared so then we are going to implement it,” he added. (Additional reporting by Francis Wakefield)