Communist rebels say they plan to cut truce short
LUCENA CITY—The head of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel said rebels are inclined to end their observation of a ceasefire on Jan. 2 after President Benigno Aquino failed to issue an order reciprocating the rebels’ gesture for a longer cessation of hostilities.
Luis Jalandoni, NDFP peace panel chair, said rebel and government representatives had agreed on a ceasefire lasting from Dec. 20 to Jan. 15 at a meeting in The Hague, The Netherlands.
The ceasefire was meant to create favorable conditions for the resumption of the stalled peace talks.
Jalandoni said the New People’s Army had agreed also to observe a ceasefire until Jan. 3 in areas devastated by Typhoon “Pablo.”
The Armed Forces of the Philippines unilaterally declared a holiday ceasefire from Dec. 16 to Jan. 2.
Jalandoni described Aquino’s failure to issue a reciprocal ceasefire order until Jan. 15 as “most regrettable.”
The failure of the Aquino administration to respect the commitment made by its “special representatives” during the meeting in The Hague “is a major loss of opportunity” to move peace talks with the rebels forward.
Among officials who were at The Hague meeting were Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs Ronald Llamas and government peace panel head Alexander Padilla.
“The Aquino government should honor the commitment of its special representatives,” said Jalandoni.
He said if Mr. Aquino fails to issue a ceasefire declaration to match the rebels’ effort, “the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and the NDFP would have to consider the option of cutting short the duration of its unilateral ceasefire order.”
The communist insurgency in the Philippines is one of the longest in the world and has killed thousands of soldiers, rebels and civilians caught in the crossfire.
Attempts to move peace talks forward had faltered as both sides accuse each other of insincerity. Government forces continue to arrest suspected rebels while rebels continue to launch attacks against government targets.