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Duterte to Reds: Ceasefire or not?

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte gave the Communist Party of the Philippines until 5 p.m. Saturday to say if they wanted a truce and explain why the New People’s Army ambushed a group of militiamen in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, saying their failure to do so would lead him to lift the unilateral ceasefire he declared earlier this week.

“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 said during a visit to the wake of the slain militiamen at the 60th Infantry Batallion headquarters in Davao del Norte.

“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 said during a visit to the wake of the slain militiamen at the 60th Infantry Batallion headquarters in Davao del Norte.

On Friday, the CPP asked Duterte to give them more time to verify and investigate the ambush in Davao del Norte in which one militiaman was killed and four others were wounded.

“The... negotiating panels are in touch with each other. President Duterte should give more time to the [National Democratic Front of the Philippines] negotiating panel to investigate the alleged incident. The NPA regional command concerned has been asked to do the investigation and report,” CPP founder Jose Maria Sison told the Manila Standard. 

ULTIMATUM. President Rodrigo  Duterte, flanked by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (left) and AFP chief Ricardo Visaya,  issues an ultimatum for the Communists to declare ceasefire  on or before 5 p.m. Saturday  and explain  why the NPA ambushed a group of  militiamen in Davao del Norte. Malacanang Photo
“President Duterte should be patient and not expect quick surrenders from highly principled and experienced revolutionaries who have a growing mass base against the rotten ruling system of big compradors and landlords,” added Sison, who is in Utrecht in The Netherlands. 

“It took at least three days for the Duterte government to make clear what is the content of its unilateral ceasefire order. The CPP and NDFP should be given enough time to study tbe implications and consequences of the GRP ceasefire order,” he added.

Sison argued that Duterte merely made an announcement of a unilateral and immediate ceasefire during his State of the Nation Address on July 25 but it was only on July 26 when the Armed Forces issued a suspension of military operations (Somo) that was “not clear about many things.”

The police, on the other hand, only issued a suspension of police operations against CPP rebels on the July 27.

“The Central Committee of the CPP has to study these defective issuances of the AFP and PNP and also find out whether current political prisoners shall be released through general amnesty,” Sison added.

NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni also said the Central Committee of the CPP would be declaring a similar truce. 

“We expressed to President Duterte that the ceasefire declaration of the Communist Party will be forthcoming soon,” Jalandoni said. 

But a statement from the NPA said the “two-faced” Armed Forces violated its own ceasefire, which led to the death of a militiaman.

The statement said communist fighters “thwarted a military offensive” by the Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit of the 72nd Infantry Battalion and Alamara paramilitary troops .

The ambush, the NPA statement said, was in line with orders from top NPA officials to maintain their alert status in response to Duterte’s ceasefire.

On Thursday, Duterte warned communist rebels that he would call off the unilateral ceasefire that he declared unless they explained why the New People’s Army rebels ambushed a group of militiamen.

After his speech, Duterte also scotched the suggestion from the communists that they would join Duterte in a coalition government.

“I would like to assure everybody here in this room that I will never, never agree to a coalition government. I am very emphatic about that. I can have an inclusive government. I have taken them in. I can only really surrender to them in the sense that I can shake hands and talk about peace… an inclusive government,” Duterte said. 

“I’m happy with the ongoing operations on all fronts, [including] the Communist Party. This has been long in the making,” he said.

After the President declared a ceasefire, the military said it would retaliate against any attacks on soldiers or communities.

NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni, in a television interview, said the communists were already investigating the attack made by the NPA, and that it should not be a hindrance to the ongoing peace initiatives.

“The incident of July 27 is already being investigated, and as soon as possible, the NPA will prepare a report and take measure to ensure that this will not be an obstacle to the peace negotiations,” Jalandoni said in Filipino. “

Government peace panel chair and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the ambush of the New People’s Army in Davao del Norte was “disheartening.”

“It is disheartening that the NPA failed to respect the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Duterte last Monday during the Sona (State of the Union Address). Barely two days after this ceasefire declaration, the NPA ambushed government forces killing one Cafgu member and wounding four others in Davao del Norte,” Bello said.

Bello said that the government is working on the premise that the Central Committee of the CPP and the NDF still have control over the ground troops, including the NPA.

NDF negotiator Fidel Agcaoili, whom Bello confronted, said that as far as the NDF leadership is concerned, the NPA has been on active defense mode since July 26 as announced by Ka Oris, a rebel leader.

“We informed Secretary Bello that we will have to look into the report because as far as the NDFP panel knows the NPA is on active defense mode since 26 July as announced by Ka Oris, the newly appointed Head of the National Operational Command of the NPA,” Agcaoili said. 

He added that the NDFP “is committed to resume the peace negotiations to address the roots of the armed conflict to attain a just and lasting peace.”

At 4:30 p.m., Duterte arrived at the 60th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Brgy. Doña Andrea, Asuncion to visit the wake of the militiaman who was killed in the NPA ambush. With Vito Barcelo

Topics: President Rody Duterte , ceasefire , NPA , CCP , NDF , AFP , reds
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