Duterte declares holiday truce with Reds

By , on December 20, 2017

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in his speech during the Ceremonial Signing of the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) in Malacañan Palace on December 19, 2017, declares that the first tax reform package is his administration's biggest Christmas gift to the Filipino people citing that it would benefit most the taxpayers. ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Contrary to previous statements and recommendations by some of his Cabinet members, President Rodrigo Duterte announced a suspension of military operations (SOMO) for the holidays.

“The President announced last night a suspension of military operations (SOMO) from December 24, 2017 to January 2, 2018,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

According to Roque, the Christmas season ‘holds a special place in the hearts of the countrymen’ and it would be best to stand together as one nation in aspiring for peace during the season.

“This unilateral ceasefire would lessen the apprehension of the public this Christmas season. We expect that the CPP-NPA-NDFP (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army- National Democratic Front of the Philippines) would do a similar gesture of goodwill,” he further said.

A few days ago, Malacañang in a statement said that the government is maintaining its stand on not declaring a SOMO, in which government forces are not involved in offensive operations but only for defensive ones in case of attacks.

(Read: Palace insists on breaking military tradition, no holiday truce)

It has been a tradition to declare a SOMO during the yuletide holidays, which is reciprocated by the side of the rebels as well.

Roque had said that declaring one would only expose ‘our defenders to enemy attacks and embolden them to commit more atrocities.’

He did say however that they are not closing their doors on other possibilities.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, earlier this month, said that he will not recommend a SOMO to maintain the government forces’ stance and operations against the recently-declared terrorist group.

“No, I will not [recommend a SOMO]. Because there was an order by their commanders to intensify operations against us. So kung mag-SOMO kami (if we have a SOMO), we will stand down and they will attack us again,” he said on December 5.