MANILA -- The government will not declare a truce with the New People's Army (NPA) for Christmas.
This, amid calls for the government to reconsider its decision and declare a Christmas truce with the rebels, as is usually done by the government in recent years.
"The decision not to declare a suspension of military operations (SOMO) with the members of the New People’s Army over the Christmas holidays stays," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
"Our defenders would not stand down as there has been call on the other side to launch offensives against state forces," he added.
According to Roque, the decision not to declare a ceasefire is because the NPA is known to continue its attacks despite a unilateral ceasefire between the government.
"The CPP-NPA is notorious for conducting treacherous attacks even when there was unilateral ceasefire in the past during which we have lost scores of our brave defenders. Declaring a SOMO 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," he said.
"However, we do not discount possibilities that there may be circumstances that may arise for government to reconsider its present position," Roque added.
As early as November, President Rodrigo Duterte said he is no longer keen on declaring a Christmas truce with the NPA.
He later declared the group as a terror organization, marking a major shift in the once-vibrant ties between the tough-talking leader and the armed Left.
Following Duterte's announcement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the military could "break tradition" on its annual ceasefire with communist rebels.