MANILA – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said that the lifting of unilateral ceasefire would not affect the scheduled peace talks on Aug. 20-27 in Oslo.
The CPP, however, advised President Rodrigo Duterte to “exercise a little more prudence and display more measured temperament as a way of appreciating the situation from a broader historical perspective in order to avoid such impulsive acts as imposing ultimatums by the hour on a conflict that has spanned nearly fifty years.”
The CPP said that its leadership has, since June, prepared a draft for a unilateral ceasefire in anticipation of peace talks with the Duterte administration. The CPP, however, said that the continuing offensives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) prevented it from declaring the ceasefire sooner.
After Duterte ordered ceasefire to the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) forces last July 25, the CPP and NPA reciprocated by ordering all its units to maintain an active defense mode.
Three days later, Duterte gave an ultimatum to the CPP, NPA and the National Democratic Front to explain the July 27 armed encounter in Kapalong, Davao del Norte or else he would lift the ceasefire.
The NPA unit involved in the incident stated that the guerrillas merely thwarted a military offensive by paramilitary troops.
On July 29, the CPP Information Bureau announced that the CPP Central Committee would release a statement on reciprocal ceasefire declaration by 8 p.m. An hour before the expected announcement, Duterte ordered the AFP and PNP to resume all its operations.
The CPP said it was “quite capricious” for the GRP President to have imposed such ultimatums of a few hours or several days for the CPP to act in accordance with order.
“It was quite disconcerting that the GRP President would impose such an inflexible ultimatum on the CPP,” the CPP said. “Despite his anti-crime bravado, it would seem he has shown the drug lords and protectors of criminal syndicates more flexibility and accommodation.”
The CPP pointed out that the AFP did not at all comply with the ceasefire declaration of its own commander-in-chief. “Not a single AFP command ordered its troops withdrawn back to their barracks,” the CPP said.
The CPP said combat units of the AFP have remained active in civilian communities throughout the country, from Isabela to Sorsogon, Northern Samar to Surigao del Norte, to Compostela and even in Duterte’s home province of Davao del Norte where AFP combat troops continue to wage armed offensives.
Still, the CPP said it looks forward to work with Duterte in peace negotiations.
The CPP added it expects the Duterte government to make good its promise to release all peace consultants of NDFP as well as all political prisoners arrested and detained under the Arroyo and Aquino regimes.