IT is a rare moment when both Malacañang and Camps Aguinaldo and Crame are one in deciding that the government will not declare any ceasefire with New People’s Army rebels this Christmas season — or at any time between now and June 30, 2022 when President Duterte leaves office.
“There will be no ceasefire ever again under my term,” the President said in a televised address last Monday night, December 7.
For several years now, various administrations have declared a ceasefire with the communist rebels, sometimes even when peace negotiations are suspended. This was also the experience of the Duterte administration with this peace process experiment with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the group that leads in the negotiating table with the government, oftentimes abroad.
‘But it is popular knowledge that these periods of relative peace… were used by the rebels for rest and recreation, to visit their families in the towns and cities, and to consolidate their forces.’
But it is popular knowledge that these periods of relative peace when a nationwide ceasefire is in effect were used by the rebels for rest and recreation, to visit their families in the towns and cities, and to consolidate their forces. Oftentimes, there have been small skirmishes with the Armed Forces, thus complaints of violations of the ceasefire accord were commonplace.
The lay of the land this Christmas season is different. The party-list groups in the House of Representatives, which Duterte identified as front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), have been very active in using the government’s democratic space to topple the very government that feeds them. At least, this is the official line of President Duterte, and which the concerned groups have denied.
The Armed Forces earlier announced they would not recommend to the President a traditional holiday ceasefire with the communist rebels. The military lamented the lack of sincerity of the NPA rebels in respecting the truce, citing their continued crimes.
In the same address, the President said he “walked away” from the peace talks with the communist rebel group “because we cannot understand each other.”
Duterte rejected the rebels’ demand to form a coalition government as unacceptable.
Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., chief of the Southern Luzon Command who has been at the forefront of the daunting task of informing the people about the real character of the CPP-NPA-NDF, has lately been notching good scores in this task, buoyed by the encouragement from the President and the warm response from the legion of ordinary Filipinos who now know better.