The National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA) declared its own ceasefire but several hours after President Rodrigo Duterte had revoked the government’s unilateral truce.
Nevertheless, Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza welcomed the move of the communist group.
“After President Duterte ordered last night the lifting of the government’s unilateral ceasefire, the leadership of the CPP/NPA/NDF announced through the media its belated but still strategic and awaited decision to also declare its own unilateral ceasefire,” Dureza said Sunday. “Indeed, this is a welcome development. It affirms the value of the President’s firm actions for peace. This is what we have been waiting for.”
Duterte warned he would lift the ceasefire if the CPP and NPA did not reciprocate the move by 5 p.m. on Saturday. The ultimatum was issued after communist rebels attacked the government militias on Wednesday in Davao del Norte, killing one of them and injuring others.
Duterte lifted the ceasefire at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The CPP announced its own ceasefire at 8 p.m.
Dureza said the President’s declaration of a ceasefire is proof that he is willing to “walk the extra mile for peace.”
“And no doubt, he will still continue to do so at any given opportunity,” he stressed.
The Cabinet will continue discuss the ceasefire in a meeting Monday.
“I will make my corresponding recommendations to the President and the whole cabinet tomorrow during the scheduled cabinet meeting in the afternoon,” the peace adviser said in a statement Sunday. He said the Cabinet “will deliberate on their next steps” today.
Dureza earlier said the lifting of the ceasefire will not affect the peace negotiations between the government and the NDF which is set to start on August 20 in Norway.
“We have to stay the course, however bumpy and difficult the road may be,” he said.
However, the lifting of the ceasefire did not sit well with Jose Maria Sison, founder of the CPP, who accused Duterte of being a “bully.”
Sison said Duterte’s order revoking the ceasefire came before rebels could declare their own truce to reciprocate the government’s ceasefire.
Sison, in exile in The Netherlands, said Duterte has no power over the CPP or NPA.
“Well, he gave a warning, and he did it (lift the ceasefire). But he should not think that he can just order the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front of the Philippines around,” Sison said.
“The President is too volatile. He has just been elected and now he is seemingly kicking his own negotiators, now he is acting like the direct negotiator. I can’t do anything is he withdraws and the revolutionary leaders in the Philippines will decide not to carry out the ceasefire. Duterte showed that he wants war if his wish is not granted, he thinks he has servants that he can order around,” Sison said in a television interview.
REINA TOLENTINO AND AL JACINTO