Reds to announce unilateral ceasefire on August 20
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said on Sunday that it is willing to issue a unilateral ceasefire declaration “separately but simultaneously” with the government on August 20, the first day of the formal resumption of peace talks in Oslo, Norway. “To further support peace negotiations, the CPP is willing to issue a unilateral ceasefire declaration separately but simultaneously with the Duterte government on August 20. The time-frame can be determined through negotiations,” the CPP said in a statement. It said that while it is “too bad” that President Rodrigo Duterte has withdrawn the unilateral ceasefire declaration he issued on Saturday, they remain optimistic that it would not derail the preparations for the peace talks.
“We trust, however, that this will not affect preparations for formal resumption of peace negotiations scheduled for August 20-27 in Oslo, Norway, nor will it preclude the GRP President from reissuing such a declaration simultaneously with a similar unilateral declaration by the CPP and NPA on August 20,” the statement read. The CPP explained why it took days for them to reciprocate Duterte’s ceasefire offer. “The CPP took the more prudent path of moving slowly in a deliberate effort to observe the situation at the ground even as it ordered the NPA to stay on active defense. The CPP, however, will not allow itself to be browbeaten to order the NPA to go on a ceasefire while operating troops of the AFP showed no plans of letting up in their search-and-destroy operations and frenzied offensives that terrorize civilian communities,” it said.
The CPP described Mr. Duterte’s deadline to communist rebels to issue its own ceasefire declaration as “whimsical” and “capricious.”
“It was quite capricious for [Mr. Duterte] to have imposed such ultimatums of a few hours or several days for the CPP to act in accordance with his whims. It was quite disconcerting that [he] would impose such an inflexible ultimatum on the CPP,” it said.
The CPP said Mr. Duterte seemed more accommodating to suspected drug lords, apparently referring to the controversial meeting between the President and Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim, who had been linked to the illegal drugs trade.
“Despite his anticrime bravado, it would seem [Mr. Duterte] has shown the drug lords and protectors of criminal syndicates more flexibility and accommodation,” the CPP said.
On Saturday night, the President recalled his ceasefire order after a 5 p.m. deadline he had set passed without a response from communist insurgents.
Mr. Duterte demanded an explanation from communist leaders following the ambush staged by NPA rebels in Davao del Norte province on Wednesday. A government militiaman was killed while four others were wounded in the attack. The CPP said the government and NDFP, as earlier planned, can exchange ceasefire declarations “in order to discuss points for cooperation and coordination and determine ways of preventing armed skirmishes, misunderstandings and miscommunications during the course of the peace talks.”
It expressed hope that despite the revocation of the government ceasefire order, it will not affect preparations for formal resumption of peace negotiations scheduled this month in Norway.
The CPP said it is looking forward to work with Mr. Duterte in securing peace. Prudence The CPP asked the President “to exercise a little more prudence and display more measured temperament as a way of appreciating the situation from a broader historical perspective.”
By doing this, it said Mr. Duterte would “avoid such impulsive acts as imposing ultimatums by the hour on a conflict that has spanned nearly 50 years.”
It said the military and the police continued to attack and stage combat operations against NPA rebels in different parts of the country even while the ceasefire was in effect.
“The CPP will not allow itself to be browbeaten to order the NPA to go on a ceasefire while operating troops of the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] showed no plans on letting up in their search-and-destroy operations and frenzied offensives that terrorize civilian communities,” it said.