NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT OF THE PHILIPPINES (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said that President Rodrigo Duterte failed to display patience in preempting the Communist Party of the Philippines’ announcement of its own unilateral declaration of ceasefire last night.
In this interview, Sison responds to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process chairperson Jesus Dureza’s statement issued earlier today.
Read the full statement here: Dureza’s Statement, 31 July 2016
Kodao Productions: Did the CPP issue its own unilateral ceasefire at eight o’clock last night? Why/Why not?
Jose Maria Sison: I am not aware that the CPP issued its own unilateral ceasefire last night at 8 p.m. If the CPP did not, I can understand because of Duterte’s earlier withdrawal of his own ceasefire order. There was nothing anymore to reciprocate.
Kodao: If so, is it “belated”, as Mr Dureza claims?
JMS: To say the least, it is not appropriate for Duterte to give any ultimatum. In the first place, the CPP had to consider the phoney characteristics of Duterte’s ceasefire order on July 25. It did not refer to any complete text of the order despite its supposed “immediate effectivity”. It did not stop the continuing military operations under Oplan Bayanihan. The SOMO (Suspension of Military Operations) and SOPO (Suspension of Police Operations) that were released on July 26 and 27 did not stop military operations against the NPA but sought to justify and promote them. The NPA had to defend itself against the invasive and violent action of the Army and its paramilitary in Kapalong, especially because of previous abuses in other communities.
Kodao: Is it an affirmation of Mr Duterte’s “actions for peace?”
JMS: There is now a prevalent view among the revolutionaries and the people that the phoney ceasefire of Duterte on July 25 was merely a cheap trick to lay the ground for the escalation of war, for launching more aggressive military actions against the NPA and the people. It was also apparently a trick to distract people from the failure of the Duterte government to release any of the political prisoners.
Kodao: When President Duterte said that he expected the NDFP to respond (to his ceasefire declaration) accordingly, how did the NDFP understand his statement?
JMS: The NDFP had earlier advised the GRP negotiating panel before the SONA that Duterte could announce his intention to declare a unilateral ceasefire. There was no agreement for the NDFP to reciprocate immediately or within five days a ceasefire order whose content would be completely known only on July 27.
But (NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson) Louie Jalandoni and I immediately welcomed the so-called ceasefire order in good faith as soon as we heard it on July 25. We scrambled to have the complete text. But we received the SOMO and SOPO only on July 26 and 27.
Kodao: Were the statements from NPA-SMROC that Duterte’s ceasefire was ‘non-existent’ on the ground ‘disturbing’?
JMS: I respect the statements of NPA-SMROC as factual and true. The Duterte ceasefire was non-existent in Duterte’s own region because the Army and its paramilitary continued to occupy entire Lumad communities, schools, health clinics and barangay halls. The AFP officers and men were not following the order of their commander-in-chief.
Kodao: Did the NDFP belittle Duterte’s ceasefire when it said he could not dictate on the revolutionaries?
JMS: When I said that Duterte cannot dictate on the revolutionaries, I meant that he should have a little amount of patience. The CPP had announced yesterday (July 30) at 1 p.m. that it would issue its own ceasefire order at 8 p.m. But Duterte preempted it by withdrawing his own ceasefire order reportedly at 7 p.m. A difference of only one hour!
Kodao: Was Duterte’s ceasefire declaration unanswered?
JMS: I have already said that Louie and I immediately welcomed it. Louie wrote Bebot immediately to await the CPP’s own unilateral ceasefire declaration to be issued not later than the August 20 beginning of formal talks in Oslo. So there was already an attempt of Louie to give a reasonable amount of time for the CPP, NPA and the NDFP to consult with each other in the Philippines. These revolutionary forces use the collective method of decision-making and not any kind of presidential authoritarianism. And certainly they cannot be dictated upon and given ultimatum by any dictator.
Kodao: Do you think that Duterte is walking the extra mile? Are his efforts un-reciprocated by the NDFP?
JMS: The NDFP Negotiating Panel has been bothered for quite sometime about the increasing obstacles to the release of political prisoners. These are a far cry from the promised release of all political prisoners through general amnesty. It seemed that the phoney and nonexistent ceasefire order was made too quickly in a futile attempt to extract capitulation from the NDFP or simply to discredit it and lay the ground for more brutal military and police campaigns.
Kodao: Do you agree with Sec. Dureza that President Duterte “will continue to do so at any given opportunity?”
JMS: It is actually the NDFP which has been patient and working hard to advance the peace process so that the people can benefit from social, economic and political reforms as a result of the armed revolution and the peace process. The peace process will amount to nothing if it becomes a mere device of the oppressors and exploiters to pacify the people and the revolutionary forces.
Kodao: What do you think should Sec. Dureza recommend to the President at their cabinet meeting tomorrow?
JMS: Dureza should remind Duterte that, whether there is interim ceasefire or not, the peace negotiations should produce the comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms to address the roots of the civil war and pave the way for a just and lasting peace. #
(Interview by Raymund B. Villanueva)