By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
The Department of National Defense has announced a unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels on certain days during the holidays.
DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong said the ceasefire will take effect from 6 p.m. Dec. 23 to 6 p.m. Dec. 26 and 6 p.m. Dec. 30 to 6 p.m. Jan. 2.
Andolong urged those waging war against the government and inflicting harm on Filipinos to reflect during the holidays and seriously reconsider returning to the fold of law.
“We also direct our Defenders to maintain their vigilance and be mindful of their safety in their areas of responsibility during the ceasefire,” Andolong added.
“Finally, we encourage our citizens to cooperate and stand with our Defenders who are ensuring peace and security in all of our communities,” Andolong said.
Meanwhile, Malacañang has said that the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Duterte with the communist rebels will not be from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2 as earlier announced.
Instead, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the truce will be from Dec. 23, 6 p.m., to Dec. 26, 11:59 p.m., and Dec. 30, 6 p.m., to Jan. 2, 11:59 p.m.
Roque did not disclose any reason for the change and said the President does not need to explain his decision.
“It is always the President’s prerogative to change his decision,” Roque said. “That is part of Executive power. The President doesn’t have to explain,” Roque said.
Roque slammed Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison for calling Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire declaration as “probably a sham” to deceive the NPA.
“If Joma Sison did not feel any spirit of Christmas because of the SOMO, well, I feel sorry for him. That’s what happens when you’re not here in the Philippines anyway,” Roque said.
“We should be thankful that the President is pushing through with the unilateral ceasefire altogether. He could have ignored it completely and not declared anything,” he added.
Duterte had said he was not keen on declaring a Christmas truce with the communist rebels following continued attacks against State security forces.
The President later on decided to declare a ceasefire to reduce public apprehension during the Christmas season.
Duterte said that if ever he declares a holiday truce, it would be out of consideration for the well-being of the Filipino people.
“Look, 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.”
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