DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/31 July) — Business leaders here are worried about the lifting of the July 25 declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday but hope both parties would continue the peace negotiations.
Bonifacio Tan, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) said the business community in urban areas is not so affected by the calling off of the truce but “the rural agriculture sector is worried.”
Tan expressed hope that government and the the National Democratic Front (NDF) can forge a peaceful settlement.
DCCCII executive vice president Sofronio Jucutan fears revolutionary forces might continue collecting revolutionary taxes from the business sector.
He said the lifting of the ceasefire order “has certainly a negative effect to the business community.”
“It means that the revolutionary taxes will continue,” he said.
But former DCCCII president Antonio Dela Cruz said the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire will not bring any negative impact on the business community.
“I don’t think so,” he told MindaNews in a text message. “President Rody has all power to lift. With all his sincerity, these people (Communist Party of the Philippines/New Peoples Army/National Democratic Front) did not show any respect to him and took him for granted. They betrayed him,” he added.
Last Wednesday, a member of the Cafgu Active Auxiliary (CAA) of the 72nd Infantry battalion was killed and four others were wounded when NPA rebels ambushed them in Sitio Kamunoan, Barangay Gupitan in Kapalong, Davao del Norte.
In a statement on Sunday, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate called on the government and NDF “to continue to find all and every possible ways and means for the talks to proceed, for the greater interest of a just and lasting peace that our country and people have long awaited for.”
“The lifting of the government’s unilateral ceasefire is very unfortunate, considering the initial positive advances that both the government and the NDFP have reached particularly during their informal talks last June 14 to 15 in Oslo, Norway,” he said.
Zarate said he hopes the scheduled resumption of peace talks will still push through on August 20 to discuss, among others, the June 15 joint statement on the “ceasefire declaration by both parties.”
“We also call on the peace advocates – the Bishops and religious, the members of the academe and other people of goodwill – to also exert efforts to push the parties to continue with the peace talks and to reach a just political agreement that will address the root causes of the armed conflict,” he said.
Duterte announced the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire at 7 p.m. on Saturday, two hours after his 5 p.m. deadline to the NDF to reciprocate government’s ceasefire declaration lapsed.
“Correspondingly, I am ordering the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to also withdraw the operational guidelines they issued in pursuance to that ceasefire declaration,” Duterte said.
The president also ordered the 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.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)