DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 August) – The guns will be silent by 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, August 21, as government (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) have both declared a unilateral ceasefire – the NDF for seven days but open to discussing a longer period, and the government “for as long as necessary to bring peace in the land.”

“I am pleased to announce that President Rodrigo Duterte has restored the effects of the unilateral ceasefire with the CPP /NPA/NDF (Communist Party of the Philippine/New Peoples Army/NDF) effective 12 midnight tonight, 21 August, 2016,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said in a statement released before departing for Oslo on Saturday afternoon.

Dureza said the duration of the unilateral 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 August 22,”

On Friday, the CPP and the NPA, acting on the recommendation of the NDF peace panel, declared a seven-day unilateral ceasefire to “celebrate and bolster” the formal resumption of the peace negotiations with the GPH.

The GPH and NDF peace panels are meeting in Oslo, Norway on August 22 to 27.

The ceasefire, issued following the release of 14 of the 22 detained NDF consultants in the peace process, is to take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, August 21, to 11:59 p.m. Saturday, August 27.

But in a press release posted on the CPP website, it said that to “further bolster peace negotiations, the CPP and NPA are also open to discuss the possibility of a longer ceasefire upon completion of the release of all political prisoners.”

This ceasefire declaration is encouraged by the GRP’s facilitation of the release of 14 of the 22 detained NDFP consultants who are set to participate in peace negotiations in the course of the next several months.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire on July 25, during his first State of the Nation Address but lifted it at 7 p.m. on July 30 “due to the failure of  the CPP/NPA/NDF to timely reciprocate with their own,” Dureza said.

“Today, the President restores the effects of that ceasefire declaration precisely at this strategic time when we are all at the onset of the formal resumption of peace talks that had previously stalled  for the last four years,” Dureza added.

He said the operational guidelines of the July 25 ceasefire declaration for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and other security units of the government “are also hereby restored.”

The citizens “deserve no less” said the Presidential Adviser who will lead the Philippine delegation to Oslo

Enabling environment

The Duterte administration, he said, will walk the extra mile for peace as he explained that 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 noted how the President had “caused the unprecedented and historical release from detention of 20 prisoners who are needed in the peace negotiations” and that there is “continuing effort to make available in the Oslo peace talks resumption as many of them as possible.”

“Cease and desist”

The CPP/NPA/NDF statement said that during its seven-day unilateral ceasefire, “all NPA units and people’s militia shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military campaigns and operations” against the uniformed armed personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

According to the declaration, AFP and PNP personnel “who have no serious liabilities other than their membership in their armed units” shall not be subjected to arrest or punitive actions and “may be allowed individually to enter the territory of the people’s democratic government to make personal visits to relatives and friends.”

All units of the NPA and the people’s militias “shall remain on defensive mode at both the strategic and tactical levels” but shall nonetheless maintain a “high degree of militancy and vigilance against any hostile actions or movements by enemy armed forces with the aim of encirclement and suppression.”

The NPA, it said, “shall consider as hostile action encroachments on the territory of the people’s democratic government by operating troops of the AFP and its paramilitaries to conduct surveillance, psywar and other offensive operation” that are labeled as ‘peace and development,’ ‘civil-military,’ ‘peace and order’ and ‘law enforcement operations.’

Active-defense operations by the NPA “shall be undertaken only in the face of clear and imminent danger and actual armed attack by the enemy forces and only after exhausting counter-maneuvers to avoid armed encounters.”

The declaration also directed the CPP’s organs and branches and the NPA’s commands and units to “closely monitor any hostile actions, provocations or movements being carried out by the enemy armed forces” and that information should be reported to the concerned commands of the NPA and leadership of the CPP. (MindaNews)