Sunday, December 22, 2019

Duterte orders holiday truce with Reds

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 23, 2019): Duterte orders holiday truce with Reds (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos and Priam Nepomuceno)

President Rodrigo Duterte 

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a unilateral ceasefire with the communist guerrillas this Christmas season, MalacaƱang announced on Sunday.

The President decided to observe the annual tradition to suspend military operations against
members of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), over the holidays, said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a statement issued Sunday night.

The temporary ceasefire will take effect from 12 a.m. of Dec. 23 and will end until 11:59 p.m. of January 7 next year.

“The Palace hereby announces that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has directed the declaration of a unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire with the coalition of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People's Army and the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF),” Panelo said.

Duterte made the declaration, as he wished all Filipinos to enjoy “quietude and serenity as they celebrate the Holiday Season with their loved ones free from violence or any form of disruption,” his spokesperson said.

Duterte's decision to order a holiday truce with the communist movement came upon the recommendation of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, authorized state negotiator Hernani Braganza, NDF negotiating panel senior adviser Luis Jalandoni, and NDF negotiating panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili.

In a joint statement, the representatives from the national government and the communist party said the ceasefire would help generate a “positive environment conducive to the holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations”.

Panelo said the Chief Executive has instructed the National and Local Government departments, along with the military and the police, to “issue an official declaration therefor and communicate the directive for a national armistice with the CPP-NPA-NDF to their respective agents and armed units for due observance during the period”.

“The President has also ordered the reconstitution of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines Negotiating Panel, naming Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea as among its members,” he said.

“With the undertaking of these confidence-building measures -a reflection of the seriousness and commitment of the GRP, as well as a mark of goodwill on the part of the Commander-in-Chief, the Office of the President looks forward to the possible resumption of peace talks with the NDF, achieve accord with the whole coalition and ultimately, attain a lasting peace among the citizenry of our country,” Panelo added.

Duterte on Dec. 3 announced that he will be giving the communist party another chance as he sought the resumption of peace negotiations with NDF consultants.

The President’s openness to a possible revival of talks came after he officially suspended the peace talks with the NDF, through Proclamation 360 signed on Nov. 23, 2017, following the series of NPA rebel attacks against the government troops and civilians.

On Dec. 5, 2017, the President followed it up with Proclamation 374, classifying the CPP-NPA as terror organizations because of their supposed commission of crimes that are “against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of the nations”.

The CPP-NPA has also been tagged as a terror group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, all units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been informed about the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire.

"Following the President and Commander-in-Chief’s directive, a unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF will be in effect from 12 a.m. of 23 December 2019 until 07 January 2020, 11:59 p.m.," said Department of National Defense Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong in a message to reporters Monday.

Despite the ceasefire, the AFP will remain on alert to respond to any threats, he said.

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