PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has issued another ultimatum to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), calling on the rebel group to reciprocate his unilateral ceasefire declaration or face renewed hostilities.
Duterte was at the 60th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Davao del Norte to visit the wake of a government militiaman killed in an ambush Wednesday by members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the CPP armed wing.
In a speech, the President said that he was giving the communist rebels until 5 p.m today (Saturday) to also call a truce.
“I am asking you, are you ready to declare ceasefire or not? 5 p.m. I will wait … If I don’t get the word from you, I will lift the ceasefire,” Duterte warned.
The President had demanded an explanation from the communists on the Davao del Norte incident by midnight Thursday or “we’ll fight.”
Duterte was angered by the NPA ambush of government militiamen on Wednesday, just two days after he made the unilateral ceasefire declaration.
In a statement, the NPA accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of violating Duterte’s ceasefire order and sabotaging the peace talks, even as it admitted to killing militiaman Panggong Bukad and wounding four others in Brgy. Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte on July 27.
It claimed the militiamen belonging to the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit of the Army’s 72nd Infantry Battalion and “armed Alamara paramilitary troops” were in an “active operation” against NPA guerillas.
“The NPA abides by the spirit of the resumption of the peace negotiations in addressing the roots of the civil war, respects the ceasefire order of [President Duterte], and strictly adheres to the directive of the national leadership and the CPP,” said NPA spokesman Aris Francisco in the statement.