Several senators on Sunday expressed their support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to lift the government’s unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said the President’s action was justified.
“We are extending our hand of peace and friendship yet we get nothing in return,” he told The Manila Times.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito agreed with Sotto.
“He has every reason to call off the truce. This will definitely have an impact on the peace process as the issue of trust has been broken,” Ejecito said.
Duterte declared a ceasefire with communist rebels on July 25 but two days later, members of the New People’s Army allegedly ambushed a group of government militias in Davao del Norte.
Over the weekend, Edre Olalia, legal consultant and member of the International Legal Advisory Team of the peace panel of the National Democratic Front (NDF), said a unilateral ceasefire declaration is only binding on the party that declared it.
“Since it is unilateral to one party, i.e. one-sided, any violation can only be committed by the forces of that declaring party,” Olalia said. “So any allegation of a disputed violation by the other party to the armed conflict of the unilateral declaration by one party is misplaced,” he added.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson however said if the Communist Party of the Philippines is really sincere in declaring a ceasefire, the organization could have announced it even after the government decided to lift it.
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto meanwhile called on the government and the National Democratic Front not to rush into resuming hostilities and continue exploring possibilities for declaring a mutual ceasefire.
He also appealed to NDF leaders to push through with their intended ceasefire.
“It is the NDF’s turn to take the high ground by declaring their own unilateral ceasefire. Then they should give the government a period longer than what was given them to respond with its own,” Recto said.