DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte declared a ceasefire and encouraged communists and Moro revolutionary groups to join their families this holiday season.

Speaking before the 81st anniversary rites of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Wednesday, Duterte declared a ceasefire beginning December 23 to December 27 and December 31 to January 2 or 3.

“To the New People’s Army, sa mga NPA or the CPP although you did not declare any cessation of hostilities, I would like to invite everybody, leave your arms where they are and you can come down to the city, wherever you live, you visit your family,” Duterte said.

Duterte said “it’s time for the cessation of hostilities.”

He encouraged the NPAs to come to military camps and share food with the soldiers.

“Wag kayong matakot, bumaba kayo. I guarantee you there’s a ceasefire. And I’d lilke to declare it officially on my part so that you can go home to your families, all of you,” he said.

He also called on the members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front to spend time with their families even if Christmas and New Year are Christian festivities.

“Assalamualaikum (Peace be upon you), my brothers, come down, spend time…. It’s not your festivities, it’s ours, we would like you to share your moments with us,” he said.

“Revolutionaries, NPA, MI, MN you can come down, be with your family, enjoy the celebrations and we will pray together. Who knows in the fullness of God’s time baka magka-areglo tayo (maybe we can reach an agreement),” he said.

Duterte, however, warned terrorists and criminals that the government will continue to pursue them.

“Kayong mga terrorists pati yung mga  kidnappers (You terrorists and kidnappers), I don’t like to see you, I don’t like to deal with you,” he said.  Talk with Joma

Duterte also confirmed that he had a phone conversation with his previous professor and communist leader, Jose Maria Sison last Monday.
The President also allayed fears from the Army that he is conceding to the communists.

“I do not concede anything of this Republic. This Republic of the Philippines has its own powers and prerogatives. None of it will be surrendered to the enemies of the state,” he said.

“But I cannot, for the life of me, be forever fighting,” he added.

Sison in a Facebook post on Tuesday wrote that he and President Rodrigo Duterte had a “productive phone conversation” about the GRP-NDF peace talks.

“I had a friendly and productive conversation with President Duterte about the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations at around7 p.m. Monday, Utrecht time,” he said.

“Bilateral ceasefire agreement and the amnesty and release of the political prisoners listed by the NDFP can be discussed and agreed upon before, during and even after the third round of formal talks in Rome from January 18 to 24,” he said.

The two issues remain at hand after Duterte previously made pronouncements that he will not release prisoners unless a bilateral ceasefire between the government and the NDF is signed. But Duterte has committed to release sickly and elderly prisoners this month.

Sison also said the unilateral ceasefire declarations of the GRP and NDFP will stand during Christmas and New Year. (davaotoday.com)

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