MANILA, December 20, 2017 — President Rodrigo Duterte has announced a suspension of military operations (SOMO) against the New People’s Army (NPA) from December 24, 2017 to January 2, 2018.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the 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,” he added, referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines, NPA, and National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
“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,” Roque said.
According to the Department of National Defense (DND), the SOMO pertains only to military combat operations.
Duterte’s announcement came hours after he had said he would not be declaring a ceasefire with the communist rebels.
“Look, if I declare a ceasefire it’s not addressed to the NPAs. Rather, I would want to celebrate Christmas with the rest of humankind, of Filipinos na walang stress,” he said in an interview with reporters.
“I would think about it, that would be my primary consideration. I do not declare ceasefires anymore with anybody,” he added.
Roque himself had said on December 17 that there would be no Christmas truce but added that government “does not discount possibilities that there may be circumstances that may arise for government to reconsider its present position.”