Against the recommendation of his security officials, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday announced the suspension of military operations against the Communists from December 24 to January 2, 2018, The Manila Times Online reported on Thursday.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement the unilateral ceasefire would lessen the apprehension of the people during the Christmas season which holds a special place in the hearts of Filipinos.
He said the government expected the communist rebels to respond in kind and make its own ceasefire announcement.
Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana welcomed Duterte’s initiative. “We will follow the president’s directive,” he said, adding, however, that he did not recommend the ceasefire.
On December 5, Lorenzana said he was not inclined to recommend the suspension of military operations with the communist rebels, citing information that the commanders of the New People’s Army have ordered their men to intensify offensives against government forces.
A ceasefire during the holidays is a tradition among the military and the rebels in the countryside. The Communist Party of the Philippines will mark its 49th anniversary on December 26.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police also said it would follow the president’s directive, said PNP spokesman chief superintendent Dionardo Carlos, adding that a memo circular would be issued soon so all police units would be guided accordingly.