Sleepless Christmas

Holiday ceasefire not expected this year: military

THE MILITARY doesn’t expect any order to come from top brass on the suspension of military operations (Somo) this Yuletide season, especially fter President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday signed a proclamation labeling the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organization.

Speaking at yesterday’s AFP-PNP press conference held at Royal Mandaya hotel, Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division, said the Somo is also a political decision.

“We will implement the previous mandate to protect the communities and continue the community support program,” he added.

But in a separate interview, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, said they will still assess the situation and will decide accordingly.

“For now, we will continue to safeguard our communities against the NPA terroristic attacks,” Guerrero said.

Duterte based the proclamation on Republic Act 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012. However, according to protocol, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre will file a petition in the Regional Trail Court in order to brand the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group under the Republic Act (RA) 9372 or the Human Security Act.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, told reporters in Manila that he will not recommend to President Duterte to observe a traditional Christmas truce with the NPA terrorist due to the series of attacks against the government forces.

The Christmas truce has become a tradition of sorts between government and the CPP-NDF-NPA to give both the troops and the Red fighters the chance to spend the holidays with their families. But the defense secretary said in a GMA News Online report, “We can always break traditions.”

He said there was already a standing order from the communist central party to intensify attacks against government targets so declaring a truce will expose them to more risks. However, Lorenzana said his mind may still change regarding the Somo if he can find any reason to justify a truce.

Last month, Sec. Jesus Dureza, presidential adviser on the peace process, announced the pullout of the government panel from the negotiating table with the CPP-NDF. He said that the environment is no longer conducive to talk peace.

“President Duterte has taken unprecedented steps and has walked the so-called extra mile to bring peace,” he said. “However, the Communist Party and its armed elements have not shown reciprocity.”

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte supported the call of his father, President Rodrigo Duterte, in branding the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NPA) as a terrorist organization.

He said that the rebel group should have gotten the terrorist tag a long time ago because of its record of violence, murder, and harassment, “especially on the poor farmers and Lumads.”

Duterte said among those killed in the hands of the NPA was a four-month-old infant, deemed by the rebels as a collateral damage in Bukidnon.

Vice Mayor Duterte also called out legal fronts of the left for their support of the NPA.

“The NPAs are killers and they are praised and idolized by groups such as Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Karapatan, KMU and other groups under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan o Bayan. Have they ever condemned the NPA? Of course, not.”

He said that the principles being followed by the group were questionable.

“For example, is the NPA anti-mining? No. They are even extorting money from the mining companies that amounted to millions. Those who refused to give, they will torch the mining equipment.”

In an earlier interview, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said that the Davao City Peace Council (DC PEACE) will immediately convene in an emergency meeting for the planned localized peace talks.

The DC Peace was originally scheduled to meet with top leaders of the NPA around the city’s borders for initial talks for localized peace efforts here.