THE Duterte administration again declared an indefinite ceasefire with the communist insurgent movement on Saturday, a day after the Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People’s Army declared a seven-day truce on Friday.
“The duration of the ceasefire will last for as long as necessary to bring peace in the land and also in order to provide an enabling environment for the success of the peace negotiations that will start in Oslo, Norway on July 22,” said Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza.
Dureza announced the ceasefire, which took effect midnight Saturday, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport where he called a press briefing before departing for the Oslo peace talks with the communist National Democratic Front.
The NDF, for its part, also announced on Saturday the NPA would release more “prisoners of war” as another goodwill measure after five NPA captives were freed in Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur.
“We congratulate the custodial forces of the New People’s Army’s Front Operational Command 30 and 16 who continue to successfully ensure the safety of the POW’s,” the NDF said in a statement Saturday.
“Their release signifies the revolutionary movement’s serious intent in pursuing peace talks between the NDF and the government and as a gesture of goodwill for the resumption of formal talks in Oslo,” the communist rebels added.
PO1 Richard Vaz Yu of the PNP in Carmen, Surigao del Sur were abducted by the NDF’s armed wing, the New People’s Army in Brgy. San Vicente based on reports of his involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the municipality.
Four other policemen, PO2 Caleb Sinaca, PO3 Jayroll Bagayas and Rodrigo Angob of the Malimono Municipal Police Station and SPO3 Santiago Lamanilao of the Surigao City Police Office were abducted in Surigao del Norte were arrested in Brgy. Cagtinae in Malimono town.
But the ceasefire was called after the the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group arrested a ranking CPP in Cebu. The rebel leader was identified as Amelia Pond, alias Adelfa Toledo, considered a high-value target.
Pond was arrested at 1:30 p.m. on August 19 in Barangay Luz, Cebu City “on the strength of warrant of arrest for double murder and frustrated murder,” said Senior Supt. Marlon Tayaba of the CIDG-Region 7 who led the arrest.
The CIDG said Pond is allegedly a member of the Executive Committee of Southern Mindanao Regional Committee, Komisyon Mindanao of the NPA.
“Our citizens deserve no less. They wish to live peaceful lives bereft of the costs and tragic consequences of conflict and violence. The enabling environment brought about by this silencing of the guns will hopefully go a long way in bringing about an expeditious and early resolution to our differences and aspirations that have long divided us as a people,” Dureza said.
“As we all know, in full support for the orderly and effective conduct of the peace negotiations, President Duterte has caused the unprecedented release from detention of 20 prisoners who are needed in the peace negotiations. As we speak, there is continuing effort to make available in the Oslo peace talks resumption as many of them as possible,” he said. “I say again... the Duterte government will walk the extra mile for peace.”
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