Ceasefire holding; Sison says he is ready to meet Duterte in Hanoi  

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 04 January) —  Despite a shaky start, the 16-day holiday truce between the Philippine government appears to be holding and is expected to raise the prospects of reviving the peace negotiations, Jose Ma. Sison, founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines said.

Sison also said that while it is still too early in the day, he is ready to meet President Duterte “one-on-one” in Hanoi as suggested by the government panel.

There are complaints of violations of the December 23, 2019 to January 7, 2020 ceasefire “but the Philippine government is not withdrawing. Nor shall the Communist Party,” Sison told reporters in Butuan City via Skype from Utrecht, The Netherlands on December 30.

SIGNED. Government peace panel chair SIlvestre Bello III (r) and NDF peace panel chair FIdel Agcaoili exchange copies of the Interim Joint Ceasefire Agreement signed on April 5, 2017 in The Netherlands. but will take effect only when the guidelines and ground rules are approved. President Rodrigo Duterte called off the talks in November 2017 and declared the CPP-NPA as terrorists in December that year. Last month, a 16-day ceasefire from December 23, 2019 to January 7, 2020, was agreed upon by government and the NDF. Photo courtesy of OPAPP

“I think, on the whole, the ceasefire will be a success. I don’t foresee any action by the government that could spoil the ceasefire,” Sison said.

Communist rebels called off a plenum and mass wedding of their supporters in Bacuag, Surigao del Norte on December 30, as soldiers swarmed the venue.

Ka Oto, spokesperson of the New People’s Army (NPA) Front 16, informed  a group of reporters invited to cover the plenum not to proceed anymore because the situation was “unsafe”.

Sison said the deployment of Army soldiers in Bacuag town was “ a hostile and provocative action.”

But “it was not enough to pull out,” Sison said, adding there is “no great cause for the NDF to withdraw from the negotiating table.”

The Philippine government also accused the communist rebels of violating the truce when NPA rebels attacked a police and Army units in Camarines Norte and Iloilo, killing a soldier and wounding several policemen last December 23.

President Rodrigo Duterte did not call off the ceasefire.

Sison said the success of the ceasefire, could pave the way for another informal meeting of both parties by the second or third week of January.

He said the informal meeting is in preparation for the formal resumption of the peace talks to be held most likely in Oslo. The government of Norway has been facilitating the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front.  (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)