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Defense chief nixes holiday truce with Reds
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Defense chief nixes holiday truce with Reds

December 6 ------ Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said that heis not in favor of suspending military operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) during the holiday season. Lorenzana made the remark after he was asked whether or not the Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are recommending a SOMO (suspension of military operations) with the CPP-NPA this Christmas season.

“No. I have objected to a SOMO. We shall not allow the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) to use a SOMO to celebrate their 50th anniversary,” Lorenzana said. At the same time, Lorenzana also rejected calls from the NPA for a unilateral ceasefire. “That’s their call. We are not keen on a ceasefire,” he said. In a text message, AFP Public Affairs chief Colonel Noel Detoyato, said they will support the decision of the defense secretary not to declare a SOMO.“We support the stand of SND,” he said.

Armed Forces Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said if in the past they agreed to a truce with the Reds, it was only because of their desire to have lasting peace for the country. “Hindi sa ngayon lang na-realize (It’ not that we only realize it now) but the Armed Forces of the Philippines ever since we are hoping, ever since pinakikita natin yan (we are showing that) despite or notwithstanding the insincerities, not withstanding their actions that are inimical to the interest of the state, we still give peace a chance especially during Christmas time,” Arevalo said. “But this time nakikita natin na (we already see) it is not working to the advantage and best interest of our people. So we are not inclined to go with the declaration of traditional SOMO,” he added.

And to ensure that communist rebels will be prevented from committing atrocities, Arevalo said all military units around the country will be on heightened alert. The CPP-NPA is known for staging hostilities such as harassments, raids and ambuscades against soft government posts and installations to highlight significant events in the terrorist movement.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier signed Proclamations 360 and 274, which formally terminates the government’s peace talks with CPP’s political wing NDF and declares CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, respectively. Meanwhile, Army 2nd Infantry Division Chief Major General Rhoderick M. Parayno said they will be relentless with their combat operations especially with the upcoming December 26 anniversary preparations of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). “We will be relentless on our combat operations until the yearend and we will give the CPP/NPA no time to celebrate their futile cause,” Parayno said. “I would appeal to the NPAs, if they want to be with their families and live peaceful, normal and productive lives, to just return to the fold of the law. I guarantee their safety and I’ll make sure that they receive all the benefits due them offered by the government,” he said.