CPP declares end to truce
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), announced on Wednesday the termination of their unilateral ceasefire after accusing the Duterte administration of reneging on a promise to release more political prisoners and violating its own truce.
Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, spokesperson for the National Operations Command of the NPA, said the unilateral ceasefire declared by the CPP-NPA on Aug. 28 would end on Feb. 10.
Madlos’ announcement came just hours after Fidel Agcaoili, chief peace negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), gave assurance that the rebels’ ceasefire would stand despite alleged military provocation.
Madlos said the rebels would still support the peace talks brokered by Norway.
“In our experience and in the experience of other peoples, it is possible to negotiate while fighting until the substantive agreements are forged to address the roots of the armed conflict and lay the basis for a just and lasting peace,” he said.
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said he was “dismayed” by the CPP-NPA declaration. “As we always stress, the road to peace is not easy to traverse. What is important is that we all stay the course,” he said in a statement.
Dureza said the decision of the rebels “gives more impetus and encouragement” to efforts to reach a bilateral ceasefire agreement that would spell out guidelines and protocols of a mutual truce.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Mr. Duterte would pursue the peace talks and maintain the government’s unilateral ceasefire.
Representatives of the NDFP and the government, who were tasked with tackling a bilateral ceasefire, are scheduled to meet in Utrecht, The Netherlands, later this month.
Madlos said the CPP-NPA issued the ceasefire “on the mutual understanding” with the government that the release of political prisoners would take effect within 60 days from Aug. 28, the day the rebels declared a suspension of hostilities.
The government then promised last October to free up to 200 political prisoners, he added.
The government had released 21 political prisoners who were to participate in the peace talks, which opened in Oslo, Norway, last August.
Mr. Duterte has refused to free more detainees without a bilateral ceasefire deal, saying he has already given too many concessions to the rebels.
Gov’t violations cited
Madlos also accused the military of occupying 500 barangays “within the authority of the revolutionary government” in 164 municipalities in 43 provinces, which he claimed violated the government’s own unilateral ceasefire.
When the ceasefire expires, all NPA units have been ordered to plan, coordinate and carry out “military campaigns and tactical offensives” against the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
Their targets would also include paramilitary units and “death squads of the Duterte administration, drug traffickers, and operators of the drug trade and large-scale gambling, private armies and private armed groups of warlords, local tyrants as well as spies,” Madlos said. —REPORTS FROM KARLOS MANLUPIG, JEOFFREY MAITEM, LEILA B. SALAVERRIA, AND THE WIRES
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