PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has declared a suspension of military operations (SOMO) from Dec. 24, 2017 to Jan. 2, 2018.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr., said the “unilateral cease-fire would lessen the apprehension of the public this Christmas season. We expect that the CPP-NPA-NDFP would do a similar gesture of goodwill.”

Earlier, the government had expressed adamance toward the communist rebels, in the wake of its earlier proclamations declaring the termination of peace talks (Proclamation No. 360, which Mr. Duterte issued last month) and classifying the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations (Proclamation No. 374, issued early this month). However, the CPP remains a legal organization, according to the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Act (Republic Act 1700) by the 9th Congress in 1992.

Sought for comment, peace consultant Randy Felix P. Malayao of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said in a phone interview: “It has been a tradition for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army to declare a unilateral cease-fire, especially on Dec. 24 until January.”

He also noted that revolutionary forces will still be on “active defense.”

“Dahil kahit na may declaration ang government ay lagi naman nilang nilalabag ito (It’s because the government usually violates its own declaration),” Mr. Malayao said.

“We still welcome peace talks kung ito ay magreresolba ng (if it will resolve) armed conflicts. We will always have that. We hope that there will be further developments kahit na sabihin natin na may (even if we say there are already Proclamation 374 and Proclamation 360),” Mr. Malayao also said.

He noted as well that “the Makabayan bloc legislators are already being targeted by the administration” using the two proclamations. — Arjay L. Balinbin