Mindanao group leads appeal for extended ceasefire in Yolanda-affected areas

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 Nov) – The Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW) and other peace and humanitarian groups in the Philippines, are appealing to both the Philippine Government  (GPH) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to declare a 60-day extended ceasefire in the Yolanda-affected areas in central Philippines.

The group said they were in high spirits when both sides made separate public pronouncements on the need for cessation of armed hostilities in the devastated areas.

The CPP had earlier declared a 10-day unilateral ceasefire from November 14 to 24. On November 23, it extended the ceasefire by another month, until 11:59 p.m. of December 24.

The CPP declaration on November 14 said the ceasefire  covers the following regional commands of the NPA: Eastern Visayas Regional Command
Panay Regional Command 
Central Visayas Regional Command
Negros Island Command; and for the regional commands to transmit the same to the Masbate Island Command, 
Palawan Island Command
 and Mindoro Island Committee

In a statement on November 14 titled “Let Us Work Together in Peace,” the government (GPH) peace panel in the talks with the National Democratic Front / CPP / New Peoples’ Army  called on Filipinos to “set aside the politics and ideologies that have divided us, and with arms linked kapit-bisig, together surmount this crisis.”

The GPH peace panel statement said they are “heartened by the declaration” of the CPP’s ten-day ceasefire in typhoon-affected areas by our brothers and sisters engaged in armed struggle against the government but added that the task is huge and “will need more than a token suspension of armed hostilities in a limited area.”

It then urged the CPP to extend a humanitarian ceasefire “indefinitely and nationwide and join the rest of the country in mobilizing all necessary resources in a human chain of service to our people.”

In its November 23 statement,  the CPP said it was extending the ceasefire by another month “in view of the extent and gravity of the devastation of the supertyphoon that has been made worse by the gross negligence and inutility of the ruling Aquino regime.”

It said the extension “will allow all committees of the people’s democratic government, respective commands of the NPA and units of the people’s militias in the devastated areas to continue with rehabilitation efforts,” the statement read.

In their appeal, MPW and  other peace and humanitarian groups in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, urged both GPH and NDF to  immediately declare a reciprocal “60-day ceasefire” in the “hardest-hit communities” in the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Panay, Cebu, Palawan, Bohol including Negros Occidental.

The groups asked that these areas be publicly declared as “humanitarian peace zones” to “institutionalize the cessation of armed hostilities and pave the way for continuous and unhampered rescue, relief, rehabilitation, recovery operations.”

The groups said a  “humanitarian peace zone” obligates the national and local governments, line agencies, armed actors such as the military, police and NPA, the business sector and communities “into a tacit agreement that aside from a ceasefire taking effect, other forms of violence should also be prevented and mitigated and affirmative actions especially for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) are implemented in the entire duration of the relief and rehabilitation stages.”

The appeal was signed by the MINDANAO PEACEWEAVERS (MPW), Bisayang Dako Alang sa Kalinaw – [BISDAK in Leyte, Bohol, Dumaguete, Bacolod], Samar Development Agenda Consortium, Katungod Han Samarena Foundation, Agong Peace Network, Inc  (AGONG), Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), GZO Peace Institute –(GZOPI), Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID),

Mindanao Coalition of Development (MINCODE), Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference (MPAC), Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC), Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM), Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN), Pax Christi Pilipinas, Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc (PMPI), Sustainable Cooperation for Equitable Enterprise Development, Inc (SUCCEED), and Waging Peace Philippines. (MindaNews)