AFP awaits Duterte’s order on ceasefire
The Armed Forces of the Philippines will wait for orders from President Duterte before implementing a unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año said on Sunday.
Año issued the statement after the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) said on Saturday that they were set to declare a unilateral ceasefire before March 31 or before the formal resumption of the peace talks between the government and the insurgents.
“It depends on the President. We shall await for his decision. The CPP declaration for unilateral ceasefire is useless if they continue to extort money and burn equipment and properties,” Año said.
Government negotiators and CPP representatives on March 11 had agreed to resume formal negotiations and to declare a unilateral ceasefire before the talks resume in the first week of April, but this was marred days later by NPA attacks in Mindanao.
Año said the AFP and the Philippine National Police would not allow the communist insurgents to commit unlawful acts and endanger the lives of civilians with their attacks.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza earlier said he had informally raised with the NDFP the attacks of communist insurgents while there was still no ceasefire in place.
“I have informally raised across the negotiating table the matter of some possible eruption of incidents prior to the effectivity date. Hence, the urgency of an early effectivity announcement,” Dureza said.
He said his experience in ceasefire negotiations with other rebel groups would show that some factions might create “disturbances just to show defiance or merely as an attempt of projection of eminence by some of their elements.”
“Indeed, such incidents affect the overall sentiments of peace- loving citizens who may even raise issues of good faith and may lead to questions as to whether or not rebel groups we are engaging in the peace tables are sincere or have control over their ground forces,” Dureza said.
He also noted that, unlike in the AFP, there was no “tight command and control structure” within the NPA that would ensure the expeditious dissemination of orders from the higher-ups.