MALACAñANG said Sunday it has decided not to suspend the military operations against the communists rebels.
“The decision not to declare a suspension of military operations with the members of the New People’s Army over the Christmas holidays stays,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.
“Our defenders will not stand down as there has been a call on from the other side to launch offensives against state forces.”
Roque made his statement even as the Philippine National Police said Sunday it had shifted to an offensive stance against the New People’s Army after its recently tagged by the government as a terrorist organization.
In a statement, the PNP said it had mobilized tactical and maneuver units for a coordinated offensive against the NPA alongside the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Meanwhile, the 66th Infantry Battalion under the 701st Infantry Brigade conducted a Community Support Program in Barangay Araibo, Pantukan, Compostela Valley that resulted in the mass surrender of 290 Underground Mass Organization members on Dec. 12, 2017.
Roque said the communists were notorious for conducting treacherous attacks even when there were unilateral ceasefires in the past during which the military lost scores of defenders.
Declaring a SOMO [suspension of military operations] now is not to the nation’s best interest as it would only expose our defenders to enemy attacks and embolden them to commit more atrocities, especially during their anniversary,” Roque said.
“However, we do not discount possibilities that there may be circumstances that may arise for government to reconsider its present position.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday said he would not recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte to observe a traditional Christmas truce with the communist fighters, signaling sustained hostilities following the collapse of the peace talks with the Maoist rebels last month.
Amid the continued clashes during the negotiations, Duterte on Nov. 23 signed a proclamation unilaterally scrapping the peace process with the communists that aimed to end nearly half-century long insurgency.
He said the peace talks were called off because of the left’s ‘‘pure nonsense’’ demand for a coalition government, which he opposed by insisting he should maintain control over the military and the police.
Lorenzana said he will not ask Duterte to declare a ceasefire with the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, due to the heightened guerrilla attacks against state forces.
The Defense chief said suspending military operations the NPAs would leave soldiers vulnerable to assaults from the leftist combatants.