Pres. Duterte declares Christmas, New Year ceasefire with NPA, Moro rebels

The communist and Moro rebels can join their families during Christmas and New Year days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared on Wednesday ceasefire with the New People's Army (NPA), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"I would like to declare it officially on my part so that you can go home to your families. All of you, except the criminals," President Duterte said in his speech during the 81st Anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at the Camp Crame in Quezon City.

President Duterte made the declaration following a consultation with religious leaders, well-meaning individuals and peace process officials.

President Duterte also said he talked with National Democratic Front (NDF) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison early Tuesday morning and they agreed to pursue peace process.

"Now as agreed with some local and religious leaders, I will honestly and sincerely ask you for a ceasefire beginning Dec. 23 to 27 and then in New Year from Jan. 1 to 3 depending on the response of those who would like to embrace us as brothers," the President said.

"To the NPA, although you do not declare any cessation of hostilities somewhere, I would like to invite everybody, leave your firearms where you are now, and you can come down in the cities where you leave, you visit your family," he added.

The President assured the rebels that no arrest and oppression will be imposed during Christmas and New Year's Day ceasefire.

"I guarantee you that there will be no arrest, no oppression. If you meet a soldier, you shake hands and if you don't like, just ignore them," President Duterte said.

"You know those people in farms who'll join the NPAs, I'm sure you have not seen, or if at all, in fleeting moments with your family, I would like you to come down and be with your family on Christmas day," he added.

President Duterte has urged the soldiers to treat the rebels as brothers by allowing them to eat with them inside their military camps.

"It's very tiring see each other fighting on Christmas. For the military camps, especially the Army, kindly open you gates and allow the people to break bread with you even on Christmas day," the President said.

President Duterte said he will order to deliver branded canned goods and 'odong' in the military camps.

The President, however, clarified that the ceasefire does not cover criminals and terrorists.

"The Maute? I'm sorry. You just burned so many buses the other day. You have to pay for that. It will be no quarters given, no quarters asked. You know that," the President said.

President Duterte assured that he is not conceding "anything in this Republic".

"Not of it will be surrendered to the enemies of the state but I cannot for the life of me, be forever fighting," he said.

Source: Philippines News Agency