MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/03 February) — President Rodrigo Duterte announced Friday the government was lifting its unilateral ceasefire with the New People’s Army and that he had informed Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año of his decision.
Duterte, who made the announcement at the launching of the Solar Powered Irrigation System Pilot Area in North Cotabato, said the unilateral truce declaration which he issued in August last year will end Friday night.
The President’s decision came two days after the NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, lifted its own unilateral ceasefire with government.
He said he decided to end the truce due to attacks staged by the NPA this week which left six soldiers dead.
On Wednesday, the CPP-NPA said it was terminating the unilateral ceasefire because the government “has complied the non-compliance by government with its obligation to amnesty and release of political prisoners,” and has “treacherously taken advantage of the unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire to encroach on the territory of the people’s democratic government.”
It said government forces have continued 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’.”
Last year, Duterte released a number of political prisoners who participated in the peace negotiations as NDF consultants.
But he rejected the demand for the release of the remaining political prisoners saying the government will lose all its bargaining chips if he did it.
The CPP-NPA said it will still support the peace talks between the National Democratic Front and the government.
Duterte did not say what the government’s position on the talks would be now that both sides have ended their respective unilateral ceasefires.
In a text message to MindaNews, Malaybalay Bishop Jose A. Cabantan said: “It seems contradictory that ongoing peace negotiation between the government and NDF is done while war continues on the ground. We do not just talk peace to build it but live it founded on mutual trust and respect. Peace is built on right relationship.”
Former Bukidnon governor Alex Calingasan, reacting to the CPP-NPA’s lifting of its unilateral ceasefire, in a text message said: “That shows that the NPA is not really sincere in achieving lasting peace. They will always ask concessions, which are very favorable to them. The ultimate goal of communists is government takeover. So they are insincere in the peace process.” (MindaNews)