Malacañang on Thursday, December 21, said that the unilateral ceasefire declared by the President with communist rebels is for the sake of the Filipinos.
“[A]s the President himself declared in [Camp] Aguinaldo, he wanted the people to have less to worry about and that is why he implemented or he will implement this ceasefire,” he stressed.
Roque said the Commander-in-Chief could have completely ignored the tradition, but he chose to suspend combat operations.
“What is important is the President said in [Camp] Aguinaldo, he’s doing it for the Filipino people. Not for the NPA,” he said.
The Spokesperson clarified that the temporary cessation of combat operations does not stop government forces from apprehending members of the NPA, who are still tagged as terrorists by the government.
He also made clear that the ceasefire does not prevent the military from defending itself if fired upon by the rebels.
On the other hand, Roque said the President hopes that the CPP-NPA would respect the SOMO. “He’s hopeful but if not, then it will prove what he has been saying all along that the NPA are treacherous. So the ball is in the court of the NPA,” he added.
Meanwhile, when asked to comment on CPP Founder Jose Maria Sison’s statement describing the declaration as “a sham,” Roque said it is up to the people to assess the Communist leader’s take on the Christmas truce.
“How do you comment to someone who says that wanting peace during Christmastime is sham? We leave it to the people to conclude how we should react to that statement of Joma Sison,” he said.
“I personally felt it’s Christmas with the announcement. If Joma Sison did not feel any spirit of Christmas because of the [SOMO]. Well, I feel sorry for him,” he added.
As for the possibility of the resumption of peace talks with the Reds, Roque said it is up to the President to decide on the matter, reiterating that the decision to end the peace negotiations was based on the “lack of sincerity on the part of the NPA.”
Roque said among the factors that made the President pull out of the peace talks was the injury sustained by a Filipino soldier who was not an active combatant at the time he was attacked by the NPA.
“That soldier received 33 gunshots. So [the President] cannot understand how the NPA can shoot one soldier 33 times at the time when we were talking peace,” the Spokesperson stressed.
BOI records highest investment approval in 50 years
During the same press briefing, the Cabinet official announced that the Board of Investments (BOI) has recorded its highest investment approvals in 50 years, which amounted to P616.7 billion.
This is 39.5 percent higher than last year’s P442 billion and 23.5 percent higher than the government’s P500-billion target at the start of 2017.
The increase has led to a 13-percent rise in the number of projects from 378 in 2016 to 426 this year. This also means there would be more work available to Filipinos with 76,065 jobs to be created upon the projects’ full operations, Roque cited.
“This shows that the Philippines under the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has generated high business and investor confidence,” he said.
Roque further noted that 65 percent of the increase in investments was recorded in areas outside the capital region with Region IV-A topping the list, which is indicative of the administration’s effort to spur development in the countryside. ###PCO-Content