By Ben Cal
A ranking government official on Friday expressed the hope that the 18-day unilateral truce declared by President Benigno S. Aquino III with the communist rebels during the Christmas holiday could be a prelude to a lasting peace the Filipinos have been craving for in over four decades.
Alex Padilla, chairman of the government peace panel negotiating with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF), issued the statement, lauding the President’s initiative for an 18-day ceasefire during the Yuletide season.
Padilla said the government hopes the CPP-NPA-NDF will reciprocate the gesture of the President.
“Besides giving our people 18 days of peace in this holiday season, we hope this becomes a prelude to a longer, more meaningful ceasefire that will allow peace negotiations to continue and bring our nation to a just and lasting peace.”
The President ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to suspend offensive military operations (SOMO) after he signed the 2012 national budget in Malacanang on Thursday.
The ceasefire is in effect from Friday (December 16, 2011) until January 2, 2012
“It shows that the government hears and heeds our people’s call for a peaceful Christmas and seeks, through this, to nurture people’s hopes and persistent efforts to attain peace in the coming year,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said.
However, Deles said security forces will maintain defensive positions through this period.
She expressed the hope all groups will refrain from actions that will disturb the Christmas celebration.