In a statement, the CPP’s Central Committee and the NPA’s National Operations Command cited two reasons for the termination of the unilateral ceasefire — the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP)’s non-compliance with its obligation to release all political prisoners and the continuous military operations by government troops in rural communities.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) announced the termination of unilateral ceasefire today, Feb. 1.
In a statement, the CPP’s Central Committee and the NPA’s National Operations Command cited two reasons — the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP)’s non-compliance with its obligation to release all political prisoners and the continuous military operations by government troops in rural communities.
The ceasefire declared on August 28 shall expire on Feb. 10, 11:59 p.m., the revolutionary groups said. The National Demonratic Front of the Philippines negotiating panel is expected to give notice of the termination today to its government counterpart.
The CPP and the NPA maintained that the release of all political prisoners is an obligation of the GRP under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) of 1998 and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).
They added that the unilateral ceasefire declaration was issued on the mutual understanding with the GRP that the release of political prisoners would take effect within 60 days of August 28. The Duterte administration, however, failed to fulfill such promise. Since August, not one of the 329 political prisoners have been released in relation to the peace talks.
The CPP and the NPA claimed that the “GRP has treacherously taken advantage of the unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire to encroach on the territory of the people’s democratic government.”
They said that the military troops have occupied at least 500 barrios across 164 municipalities and 43 provinces.
The CPP and the NPA cited the armed encounter that broke out on January 21 in Makilala, North Cotabato.
They said that the suspension of military operations (SOMO) and suspension of police operations (SOPO) issued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) as basis of the GRP’s unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire have served as license for its armed troops, police personnel, paramilitary units and death squads to engage in hostile actions, provocations or movements, surveillance and other offensive operations that are labelled as “peace and development”, “civil-military”, “peace and order”, “anti drugs campaign,” “medical missions” or “law enforcement.”
NPA spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos told Bulatlat in an online interview that there were also skirmishes between the NPA and government troops in Isabela, Batangas, Northern Mindanao and Davao region.
Still for peace negotiations
Still, the CPP and the NPA said they continue to support the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, adding it is possible to negotiate while fighting until the substantive agreements are forged to address the roots of the armed conflict and lay the basis for a just and lasting peace.
“We oppose the use of interim ceasefires as basis for a protracted or indefinite ceasefire without substantial benefit for the people and their revolutionary forces and for laying aside peace negotiations on substantive issues such as social, economic and political reforms,” the CPP and the NPA said. “Such is tantamount to the capitulation and pacification of the revolutionary people and forces.”
The CPP’s Central Committee and the NPA’s National Operations Command ordered all commands and units of the NPA, including the people’s militia and self-defense corps, to take initiative and more vigorously carry out active defense in order to defend the people and revolutionary forces until the expiration of the ceasefire.
All territorial and unit commands of the NPA are also ordered to take full initiative in planning, coordinating and carrying out military campaigns and tactical offensives against the AFP, PNP, the various paramilitary units and death squads of the Duterte government.
The CPP leadership said the NPA will continue to enforce policies and laws of the people’s democratic government, perform necessary and appropriate functions of governance, and mobilize the people and resources in territories under its authority.
Asked for reaction, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said they are dismayed with the termination of the CPP and NPA’s unilateral ceasefire.
Dureza said his office will recommend to President Rodrigo R. Duterte that “the government continues to maintain and uphold the unilateral ceasefire to sustain the peace in the communities.”
Dureza said they agree that the situation had become untenable to sustain without the guidelines and protocols that a bilateral ceasefire provides. He maintained that the situation “gives more impetus and encouragement to our earnest task of forging a sustainable ceasefire agreement.”
Asked to comment, Madlos said the AFP ceasefire is “essentially non-existent,” adding that government offensives in guerrilla zones are relentless.
Despite this, Madlos said the CPP and the NPA remain open to bilateral ceasefire and they await the results of scheduled talks. Both parties are set to discuss the joint bilateral ceasefire in the third week of February in Utrecht, The Netherlands.