PH gov't stands by decision not to declare holiday ceasefire with NPA
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Sunday, December 17, said the Philippine government's decision not to declare a suspension of military operations (SOMO) with communist rebels during the Christmas season stays.
"Our defenders would not stand down as there has been call on the other side to launch offensives against state forces," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement on Sunday.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he will not recommend a declaration of SOMO this year.
He said they "can always break" the military tradition of declaring a SOMO during holidays – a move also reciprocated by the New People's Army (NPA).
On Sunday, Roque said the Philippine government has "lost scores of our brave defenders" in the past, when the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) conducted "treacherous" attacks despite a unilateral ceasefire.
"Declaring a SOMO 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," he added.
But Roque said they do not "discount possibilities" that circumstances may arise for the government to "reconsider" its present position.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed a proclamation declaring the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization last December 5 – the same day Lorenzana announced the decision not to declare a holiday ceasefire with the communist rebels. – Rappler.com