Government declares ceasefire with communist rebels

In the spirit of the Christmas season, the government declared last Friday an 18-day
suspension of military operations (SOMO) against communist rebels, the longest ceasefire
period in the last 10 years.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, government peace panel chair Alexander Padilla said the
ceasefire will take effect Dec. 16 and ends midnight of January 3 next year.

Padilla said that on Dec. 1 and 2, the peace panel which he heads together with Atty.
Pablito Sanidad met with National Democratic Front (NDF) panel chair Luis Jalandoni, Coni
Ledesma and their lawyers in Hongkong.

It was the first round of informal meetings between the two sides under the administration
of President Benigno S. Aquino III. Without any pre-set agenda, discussions on matters of
mutual concern and interest were taken up. “The talks were open, friendly, free-wheeling and
eventually, meaningful,” Padilla said.

Padilla said the GRP panel was instructed by the President to remain focused in pursuing the
path to peace towards a just and honorable settlement of the decade-old conflict.

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