Gov't specifies dates for Christmas ceasefire with communists

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government announced on Thursday, December 21, that it has specified the dates for its unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels. 

In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the unilateral ceasefire against communists will run from 6 pm of December 23 to 11:59 pm of December 26, and from 6 pm of December 30 to 11:59 pm of January 2. 

Roque earlier said President Duterte announced a suspension of military operations (SOMO) from December 24, 2017, to January 2, 2018. 

Roque said on Thursday he had no information why the dates for the ceasefire were changed. In any case, he maintained that the ceasefire would benefit Filipinos.

"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 an earlier statement.

Duterte formally canceled the peace talks with communists on November 23 after the latter's incessant deadly guerilla operations had filled his anger to the brim.

The President has since then declared the New People's Army (NPA) – the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – as a terrorist group, going as far as likening them to the Islamic State (ISIS)

In a separate statement, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said the unilateral ceasefire "is a bold step."

"It is a clear indication of his unwavering desire to bring sustainable and durable peace in the land despite the cancellation of peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF," Dureza said.

"Although arrived at unilaterally upon the President's sole determination, it is my personal expectation – and the public as well, I'm sure – that the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed organs will extend reciprocity to President Duterte's gesture for peace," he added. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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