By Martin Sadongdong
The Department of National Defense (DND) directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday to obey the approved holiday truce with the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana issued the directive to the military following the decision of President Duterte on Sunday night to approve the joint recommendation of the Philippine government (GRP) and the NDF to declare a nationwide unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire as a “measure of goodwill and confidence building” prior to the resumption of formal peace talks.
“Following the President and Commander-in-Chief’s directive, a unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF will be in effect from 12 a.m. of December 23, 2019 until January 7, 2020, 11:59 p.m.,” Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said.
“The appropriate directive has already been properly communicated and disseminated to all AFP units,” he added.
However, according to Andolong, Lorenzana advised all the military units to remain vigilant against treacherous attacks from the communist rebels.
“The AFP will remain on alert, and stand ready to respond to any threats to the safety and security of our communities,” Andolong said.
Lorenzana earlier rejected propositions of a ceasefire with the Reds since he said only the military follows it while the communist rebels sneak into the communities to recruit fighters.
However, he said that the DND will remain supportive of the President’s plans with regards to the possible revival of the peace talks.
Duterte terminated the peace talks with the communist group in 2017 after the other party continued to launch ambushcades on government troops despite an existing truce, hence, casting doubts on their sincerity.
Earlier this month, Duterte revealed that he ordered Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to start the informal talks with CPP founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison to pave the way for the resumption of the formal peace talks.
Read more: Duterte, Reds declare 15-day ceasefire