Palace backs DND nixing Christmas truce with Reds

Malacañang on Thursday said it supports Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s position to reject any suspension of military operations (SOMO) with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has been asked if government is inclined to declare holiday truce amid reported offer of a ceasefire from the communists.

“The Defense Secretary is against it because, according to him, they have been using this ceasefire to celebrate yearly or anniversary, using it as an opportunity. We will not allow it this time,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.

Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to make any comment on the CPP’s holiday ceasefire offer.

He said the Commander-in-Chief does not have to make any order to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against possible attacks the NPA rebels will launch as CPP celebrates its anniversary on December 26.

“We are ready for that. The President doesn’t have to make any order. There has been — all laws, the requisite of it have been placed even prior. Meaning to say, the defense is ready for any eventuality,” Panelo said.

Last Wednesday, Duterte said he is no longer ready to talk to CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison.

“I’m no longer ready to talk to you. I’ve done it before…You insult me, I insult you. Para tayong bata (We’re like kids),” Duterte said in his speech during the awarding rites for child-friendly local government units at Malacañang Palace.

Duterte urged the communist rebels should drop their guns “and we will talk”.

“You know, if you want to transform this country, you have to do it by evolution. It cannot be revolution,” Duterte said.

Meanwhile, Panelo said issuance of an executive order is not needed to formally end peace talks with the CPP-NPA.

“Executive order is not needed. You know, the President opened his heart to peace talks. Marami na siyang ginawa (He did a lot of things),” Panelo said.

Duterte, Panelo said, had appointed individuals even those identified with the Left to his Cabinet.

“But what did they do, these people in the Left? While negotiating with us, they committed criminal acts, terrorist activities, burning properties, exacting revolutionary taxes,” Panelo said.

“Eh walang sincerity, kaya kumbaga eh inabot din iyong pasensiya ni Presidente (They have no sincerity, that’s why the President lost his patience),” he added.

In November last year, Duterte signed Proclamation 360, declaring the termination of peace negotiations with National Democratic Front, a political arm of the CPP that is negotiating with the government.

The President made the decision in response to frequent attacks by the rebels against government troops and civilians while talks between government and NDF panels are ongoing in Oslo, Norway. (PNA)