Philippine president declares Christmas truce with rebels

The Philippine president has declared a Christmas truce with communist guerrillas and urges them to reciprocate the goodwill gesture after recently scrapping peace talks with the insurgents and declaring them as terrorists.

President Rodrigo Duterte's decision, which was made public by his spokesman Harry Roque Jr. on Wednesday, reflects the contrasting moves the volatile leader has taken to deal with the 48-year communist insurgency, one of Asia's longest. Defense officials have asked Duterte not to make such a cease-fire declaration.

Roque says the Dec. 24-Jan. 2 cease fire aims to lessen public apprehension during the holidays.

Duterte has formally halted talks with the Maoist guerrillas due to continuing rebel attacks on government forces and declared them as terrorists in the first step of a legal process to proscribe their group.