Reds ending ceasefire, gov’t says peace talks to proceed
The leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) declared on Wednesday it is terminating its unilateral interim ceasefire, citing the Duterte administration's failure to fulfill its promises.
But Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the military will uphold its unilateral truce despite the communist rebels’ decision.
In a statement, the Central Committee of the CPP and the National Operations Command of the NPA said the unilateral truce declared on August 28, 2016 "shall effectively expire on 11:59 p.m. of February 10."
The leftist rebel group cited several reasons for terminating the truce, one of them is the failure of the Philippine government to grant amnesty and release all political prisoners under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.
"The Duterte regime failed to fulfill such obligation even though the CPP obliged it by extending the ceasefire declaration to more than 150 days," it said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said his administration has given many concessions to the demands of the leftist group. He has said he would release some 200 political detainees if the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panels could present a signed document declaring a bilateral truce.
The communist rebels also accused the government of "treacherously taken advantage" of the unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire "to encroach on the territory of the people's democratic government."
Abella said, "the Department of National Defense will continue to observe the government's unilateral ceasefire, at the same time enforce the campaign to protect civilians from harm and terrorism."
He added Duterte “will continue to exercise strong political will to move forward with the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF, despite the revocation of the unilateral ceasefire by the NPA."
Earlier, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said he will recommend to Duterte to uphold the government's unilateral declaration of ceasefire.
In a statement, the top peace official admitted the government is dismayed of the CPP-NPA-NDFP's cancellation of its unilateral ceasefire.
"We are dismayed with the announcement of New People's Army spokesman Ka Oris withdrawing their unilateral ceasefire effective Feb. 10," he said.
Dureza added: "We respect their decision."
He said cancellation of the truce came after some progress was made in the third round of talks in Italy last month.
During the recent talks, the government and the NDF, the political wing of the CPP/NPA, peace panels agreed to discuss a bilateral truce in the Netherlands this month.
"On the part of the office of the presidential peace adviser, we will respectfully recommend to President Rodrigo R. Duterte that the government continues to maintain and uphold the unilateral ceasefire to sustain the peace in the communities where our people desire to live in peace," Dureza said.
He said maintaining the government's truce will “provide an enabling and conducive environment to the on-going peace talks.”
Dureza said he will also recommend government forces to “continue to be relentless in their campaign to protect the civilians from harm and terrorism.”
"We agree that the situation with various incidents on the ground, had become untenable to sustain without the guidelines and protocols that a bilateral ceasefire provides. This gives more impetus and encouragement to our earnest task of forging a sustainable ceasefire agreement," he said.
Dureza hoped a peace settlement with the communist rebels could be forged immediately. Celerina Monte/DMS