PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte withdrew the truce he had earlier declared with the New People’s Army on Saturday, prompting Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison to slam the commander-in-chief of issuing a “hollow and empty” ceasefire.
Duterte ordered the withdrawal after the CPP and the New People’s Army failed to declare a ceasefire after NPA rebels attacked a group of militiamen who were returning to base from a patrol in Davao del Norte.
“Let me now announce that I am hereby ordering for the immediate lifting of the unilateral ceasefire that I ordered last July 25 against the communist rebels,” Duterte said in an official statement.
“I am ordering all security forces to be on high alert and continue to discharge their normal functions and mandate to neutralize all threats to national security, protect the citizenry, enforce the laws and maintain peace in the land,” the President added.
Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya said the AFP immediately issued the appropriate guidance to all AFP units all throughout the archipelago.
“All our forces remain on high alert and will resume to discharge their normal functions and constitutional mandated tasks,” Visaya said in his own statement.
“The NPA have missed a golden opportunity to manifest their commitment to the attainment of our citizen’s much sought peace throughout the land... This could have been what the Filipino nation had been waiting for,” the military chief said.
But Sison, who was a former professor of Duterte in college, slammed the President for being “ill-tempered” and for acting like a bully and treating the CPP like his personal servant.
“Masyadong butangero yang si Duterte at gusto niya ay gulo agad [Duterte is too quarrelsome and he immediately resorts to confrontation]. If he does not want peace, then so be it,” Sison said in a television interview via phone patch from Utrecht.
“That [unilateral ceasefire] is hollow, empty. It does not mean anything,” he added, saying the CPP was poised to announce a reciprocal truce at 8 p.m. yesterday but it was overtaken by Duterte’s statement.
“He thinks he has gotten himself a personal servant. That cannot be. Duterte can never order the revolutionary group to follow what he wants,” Sison added.
Sison also blamed the military for not following Duterte’s instructions, which he claimed led to the ambush in Davao del Norte on Wednesday that left a militiaman dead.
The unilateral ceasefire, announced by Duterte in his State of the Nation Address on July 25, lasted for all of six days.
Sison said Duterte should have waited for a few hours after the CPP failed to meet the President’s 5 p.m. deadline on Saturday.
“We are talking here of just hours. If the gap was already month-long, then it is understandable for him to get angry and give an ultimatum,” he said.
But after heaping a barrage of insults on Duterte, Sison said he remains confident that the formal resumption of peace negotiations in Oslo this month will push through as scheduled.
“This exchange of words, regardless of the temperature, these are just words. What we are trying to resolve here is the very real fighting on the ground. If the Duterte administration really has political will, we can easily overcome this exchange of words,” he said.
“As far as I’m concerned, the resumption of the formal talks will continue,” Sison added.
The New People’s Army, on the other hand, said that it has placed its troops on “active defense mode” and refused to surrender its military initiative and diminish the authority of the communist rebels.
“While the NPA [Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command] is ready, willing and able to reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire in accordance to the parameters, guidelines and rules to be set by the national leadership of the NPA, CPP and NDFP, it cannot be harangued to reciprocate a unilateral ceasefire order that is overtly mocked by the AFP hierarchy and its ground troops and paramilitary forces,” the NPA said in a statement.
“The NPA and the people’s militia are ready to defend itself from enemy troops who are actively present in almost all villages in Southern Mindanao,” the statement read.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.