DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 July) – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has welcomed the declaration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte for a unilateral ceasefire with the communist group and vowed to carefully study and make an appropriate response.
NDFP spokesperson Luis Jalandoni, in a statement posted on ndfp.org Monday evening, said that they will “respond to or reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire declaration of the GRP soon after receiving its full text.”
“Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of the Negotiating Panel for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), wrote today to Secretary Silvestre Bello III, chairman of the Negotiation Panel of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, welcoming President Duterte’s announcement in his SONA that he is ordering the unilateral ceasefire of the AFP and PNP in relation to the NPA,” the statement read.
He said that the NDFP “shared with President Duterte the determination to work for a just and lasting peace.”
The statement also reads that Jalandoni was looking forward to the resumption of formal talks in Oslo on August 20 to 27when the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels would at the latest exchange ceasefire declarations in order to discuss and agree further on how to make them effective.
In a text message to media, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate likewise welcomed Duterte’s pronouncement on the ceasefire. “His declaration of a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF is most welcome and the subsequent release of political prisoners would be a great confidence building measure to jumpstart the formal peace negotiations to finally address the root causes of the armed conflict,” he said.
Duterte, in his SONA last Monday, said his declaration of a unilateral ceasefire is effective immediately and encouraged the Communist Party of the Philippine-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to respond accordingly.
The President, who delivered a 1-hour and 32-minute speech, said that it is about time to end the decades-long of armed-conflict.
“Let me say this: all of us want peace, not the peace of the dead, but the peace of the living. We express our willingness and readiness to go to the negotiating table and yet we load our guns, fix our sight, pull the trigger,” he said.
Duterte said it is both “ironic and tragic” that both parties claim they want to go back to the peace table yet the military troops and the NPA rebels fight one another.
“What I see instead are the widows, and the orphans and I feel the pain and grief, and no amount of cash assistance or the number of medals can compensate the loss of the human life. Sorrow cuts across every stratum of society, it cuts deeply and the pain lasts forever,” he said.
He said that the continuous fighting is going nowhere and gets “bloodier by the day.”
Duterte appeared hopeful that after his pronouncement of a unilateral peace, this will provide an enabling environment conducive for the resumption of the peace talks.
“Let’s strike a permanent and lasting peace before my term ends. That’s my goal, that is my dream,” he added. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)