MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippine government announced Sunday a ceasefire with communist rebels for the Christmas holidays as the two sides moved closer to resuming peace negotiations.
Malacañang said it was reciprocating a ceasefire earlier declared by the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People's Army and the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
The ceasefire will be implemented nationwide, starting 12 a.m. of Dec. 23 until 11:59 p.m. of Jan. 7, 2020, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo said Duterte has instructed the Department of National Defense (DND), the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police, to issue an official ceasefire declaration.
"The President has also ordered the reconstitution of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel, naming Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea as among its members," Panelo said.
He said that with the confidence-building measures, "the Office of the President looks forward to the possible resumption of peace talks with the NDF, achieve accord with the whole coalition and ultimately, attain a lasting peace among the citizenry of our country."
In a statement Monday, the AFP said it has relayed the President's orders to all military units.
"The AFP will remain on alert, and stand ready to respond to any threats to the safety and security of our communities," DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong said.
Malacañang earlier said the government is still keen on restarting peace negotiations with communist rebels even after Duterte ordered the military to crush its armed wing, the New People's Army.
The President formally terminated peace talks with the rebels in March, saying he would no longer entertain any "persuasions" from the communists.