No cease-fire with communist rebels this Christmas — Palace

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GOVERNMENT FORCES will not observe a cease-fire with communist rebels this Christmas, Malacañang clarified on Sunday.

“Our defenders would not stand down as there has been call on the other side to launch offensives against state forces. The CPP-NPA is notorious for conducting treacherous attacks even when there was unilateral cease-fire in the past during which we have lost scores of our brave defenders,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said.

“Declaring a SOMO (Suspension of Military Operations) 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 atrocities, especially during their anniversary. However, we do not discount possibilities that there may be circumstances that may arise for government to reconsider its present position,” he added.

Mr. Roque’s statements serve to affirm Mr. Duterte’s earlier remarks that practically discourage hopes for a cease-fire.

Pag sinabi ng military, Armed Forces na, ‘Huwag ‘yan kasi they will gain grounds (sic).’ But the only reason is you’ll give an advantage to the enemy,” Mr. Duterte said in an interview with reporters last Wednesday.

(If the military, Armed Forces, say that “No, because they will gain ground.” But the only reason is you’ll give an advantage to the enemy.)

“If they take advantage there but lull, and the military will say, “Give them the space and the time and motion to move against government forces,” eh ‘di maniwala ako sa kanila (of course, I will believe them),” he added.

On Dec. 5, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said he was not inclined to recommend a SOMO after Mr. Duterte had signed Proclamation 360, terminating the peace talks with the communists.

“We can always break tradition,” Mr. Lorenzana said of the annually observed cease-fire.

“Because there have been, there was an order by their (the rebels’) commanders to intensify operations against us, so kung mag-SOMO kami (so if we declare a SOMO) and we will stand down, then they will attack us again,” he added.

Following Proclamation 360, Mr. Duterte thereafter issued another proclamation classifying the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as terrorist organizations. — Rosemarie A. Zamora