President Rodrigo Duterte urged the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels to lay down their arms where they are and come down from the boondocks to celebrate Christmas in the city with their families or the soldiers in military camps.
Even if it means sharing only “odong” (noodles) to go with sardines for soldiers and barbeque and “pansit” (fired noodles), Duterte asked the communist revolutionaries to celebrate the Christmas festivity with the soldiers.
This developed as the President declared a ceasefire on December 23 to 27 and December 31 to January 3 to allow rebels to come down from the mountains and celebrate Christmas and New Year. He made the declaration as agreed with local and religious leaders and the people behind the peace process.
“I will honestly ask you, sincerely, for a ceasefire beginning December 23 hanggang (until) 27, then New Year, 31st hanggang (until) January 2, 3, the President declared during the 81st Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) anniversary celebration at Camp Aguinaldo Tuesday.
“Depende na lang po (It now depends) on the response of those who we would like to embrace as our brothers,” he said.
Duterte guaranteed they will not be arrested and no military operations against them will happen during truce.
“I would like to invite everybody: leave your arms where they are ngayon (now), and you can come down sa siyudad (in the city), wherever you leave, you visit your family,” he added.
When he was still mayor of Davao City, the President always call on NPA rebels to come down from the mountains during Christmas and New Year as an opportune time to visit their families without fear of being arrested.
“Alam mo ‘yung mga tao na nandoon sa bukid (You know those people in the mountains) 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 said.
Duterte told the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) that it is time for the cessation of hostilities.
“It’s time for a cessation of hostilities. Pati na ang mga MILF pati MNLF…magbaba kayo (Also to the MILF, the MNLF come down), spend time, it’s not your festivity but it’s ours – Christians and we would like you to share the moment with us,” he said.
Duterte however said the ceasefire does not cover criminals and terrorists.
He further addressed the NPA to visit Army camps and share food with the military although he can only offer canned goods to prevent food contamination.
The President also asked camp commanders to buy the best “odong” and sardines to share with each other. For the rebels, give them noodles (pansit) and barbeque to feast on.
“Revolutionaries – NPA, MILF, MNLF, 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 will come into terms) especially the communists, they’re going well.
Duterte urged the soldiers to treat the rebels as brothers by allowing them to eat with them inside their military camps.
He said it is tiring see each other fighting on Christmas. “For the military camps, especially the Army, kindly open your gates and allow the people to break bread with you even on Christmas day,” Duterte said. Ayan C. Mellejor