The military is not inclined to recommend any Christmas truce with the remaining communist rebels, an official said Thursday, adding the rebels were using the truce as an opportunity to regroup.
“[A Christmas truce] is something that the AFP is not going to recommend because, in the past, every time ceasefires were being declared, they took advantage of the ceasefires to recruit, refurbish, regroup and research, so we do not want them to be able to do that,” Armed Forces spokesman Marine Edgard Arevalo told CNN Philippines.
Meanwhile, the matter of serving or not serving the pending arrest warrants against some leaders of the National Democratic Front was “outside” the jurisdiction of the Justice department, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.
"The DOJ is ready to assist and cooperate with the peace panel, but the matter of enforcing or not enforcing arrest warrants ultimately lies with the courts, where the criminal cases against certain NDF leaders are pending," Guevarra said in a text message to GMA News Online.
Arevalo said while the AFP supports the calls for lasting and inclusive peace, a Christmas truce was not among its options as this was only for a short period of time that the communist rebels could use to their advantage.
Earlier, Arevalo said the military respects the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to give the communist rebels another chance to attend peace negotiations.
“The AFP respects and supports the wisdom of the Commander-in-Chief in issuing such pronouncements,” he said.
Earlier, President Duterte said he will send Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to The Netherlands to discuss with Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison his administration’s plans to give them another chance for a dialogue that would pave the way for the peace talks.
“We understand that those instructions to Secretary Bello are in the nature of exploratory discussion with Mr. Sison and are meant toward the attainment of sustainable peace, which is the President’s and also the AFP’s ultimate desire,” Arevalo said.
Despite this, he said the AFP would continue with its military operations in support of the National Task Force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict, which is now reaping the gains tremendously in terms of New People’s Army neutralization and enormous support of the local government and the people.
“If we are to negotiate, we so do from aposition of strength,” Arevalo said.
He also said the AFP leadership was wholly supportive of the peace process along with the rest of the Filipino nation which is yearning for lasting and legitimate peace.