Senators chide Duterte for declaring ceasefire
IT WAS an “impulsive” declaration quickly taken back, sliding the country back to square one on the path to peace.
Sen. Leila de Lima said this on Sunday as she and Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri cited the importance of pushing for a bilateral ceasefire in the wake of an apparent setback in the Duterte administration’s bid to end one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.
Asked to comment on the short-lived truce, De Lima said the government might have been rash in making the decision to issue a one-way declaration, and that it should not have expected the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to reciprocate the gesture.
“The unilateral ceasefire was impulsive as its lifting because of the nonreciprocation is now impulsive,” De Lima, a consistent Duterte critic, said by text message.
“But what exactly did the government expect? We are back where we started, but with bruised egos to boot, instead of the goodwill that prevailed at the start,” she added.
“Let’s allow tempers to die down first,” Zubiri said.
“My suggestion is have the negotiators come back to the negotiating table and discuss a bilateral ceasefire at the soonest possible time,” said the lawmaker from Bukidnon.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, for once, agreed with Mr. Duterte’s decision.
“He shouldn’t stop there. He should also kick out the two communist Cabinet secretaries,” he said, referring to Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, “before they could utilize the massive resources and influence” of the their departments “to pursue the communists’ cause.”
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said the President might have “had little choice after the attacks,” but he still hoped that confidence-building measures could continue.
Sen. Joel Villanueva said the President “has to show he is serious about the offer of peace,” but said the NPA attack on Wednesday “cast doubt” on the NDFP’s willingness to negotiate.
Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said “trust has been broken” because of the NPA attack.
Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said, “We are extending our hand of peace and friendship, yet we get nothing in return.”
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said: “It appears now that they are blaming the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) for the ambush. Where is the good faith there? Instead of conducting an investigation, they immediately made a statement that the AFP was the one that made a violation … Who are they kidding when there was a wide dissemination of the ceasefire declaration?”
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