Reds declare 7-day ceasefire ahead of talks

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THE Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) declared a seven-day unilateral ceasefire late Friday “to celebrate and bolster” the resumption peace talks with the government.

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In a statement, the CPP and NPA said the ceasefire will take effect 12:01 a.m. on August 21 and end 11:59 p.m. on August 27.

Formal talks between the negotiating panels of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the CPP’s political arm, and the Philippine government are scheduled for August 22 to 26 in Oslo, Norway, it noted.

“This ceasefire declaration is encouraged by the GRP’s (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) facilitation of the release of nearly all [NDF] consultants who are set to participate in peace negotiations in the course of the next several months,” said the CPP and NPA.

On Friday, authorities released top communist leaders Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria Tiamzon.

“The CPP anticipates the release of the rest of the [NDF] consultants so that everyone can participate in the peace talks,” the statement said.

The communists pointed to the case of a comrade, Eduardo Sarmiento, who was arrested in February 2009 and is serving a life sentence for a “trumped-up” murder charge.

“We hope that this ceasefire declaration will be reciprocated by the GRP as a show of all-out determination to move forward with peace negotiations,” said the CPP and NPA.

The ceasefire declaration however will take effect even without the government’s reciprocation.

“With or without reciprocation,”  the NPA “must maintain a high-level of alertness against enemy troop movements,” said the CPP and NPA.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire in his July 25 State of the Nation Address but withdrew it five days later after the CPP and NPA did not reciprocate.

Duterte was also angered by the killing of a government militiaman by NPA rebels in Davao del Norte.

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