DOHA, Qatar—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) terminated their unilateral ceasefire declaration of August 28, 2016 with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) today.
In a statement, NPA National Operational Command spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos said the termination is due to President Rodrigo Duterte’s failure to release more than 200 political prisoners and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) widespread violation of the GRP’s own ceasefire declaration.
Madlos said the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel will notify its GRP counterpart of its decision today.
Their ceasefire shall then on 11:59 in the evening of February 10, Madlos said.
The termination came after clashes that reportedly resulted in the capture of one and the killing of 10 AFP soldiers and the martyrdom of one NPA fighter.
- In Makilala, North Cotabato, 39th Infantry Battalion troops of the Philippine Army (PA)overran an NPA encampment last January 21 and killed an NPA guerrilla while reportedly losing eight of its own soldiers. The incident happened while the third round of formal peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP were ongoing in Rome, Italy;
- In Surigao del Norte, a PA soldier was captured by the NPA last January 29 for encroaching on CPP territory;
- Three AFP soldiers were reportedly injured after a 15-minute firefight with the NPA last January 30 in Barangay Mat-i, Surigao City; and
- On the same day, two AFP troopers were reportedly killed after a skirmish with the NPA in Echague, Isabela.
“The GRP has treacherously taken advantage of the unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire to encroach on the territory of the CPP’s People’s Democratic Government,” Madlos said.
The NPA said GRP troops have occupied 500 barrios in 164 municipalities across 43 provinces that are within the authority of the revolutionary government.
“They (AFP) have subjected entire barrios to their armed presence and have committed widespread violations of human rights, such as occupation of people’s homes, barangay halls, day care centers and other civilian structures,” Madlos said.
Madlos added that civilians have suffered threats, intimidations and harassments by AFP troopers that gravely affect the people’s farm productivity, commerce and overall livelihood.
Madlos said they have decided to terminate their ceasefire declaration due also to Duterte’s failure to fulfill his promise to release hundreds of political prisoners in compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
“The unilateral ceasefire declaration was issued on the mutual understanding with the GRP that such releases will take effect within 60 days of August 28,” Madlos said.
The NPA spokesperson explained that such was the context why the GRP Negotiating Panel approached its NDFP counterpart last October seeking an extension of the CPP and NPA ceasefire declaration with a promise that around 200 political prisoners were to be released.
“The Duterte regime failed to fulfil such obligation even though the CPP obliged it by extending the ceasefire declaration to more than 150 days,” Madlos’ statement said.
“Road to peace is not smooth”
In an earlier statement, GRP Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said they are distressed and extremely disturbed by alleged series of attacks and harassments by suspected NPA elements.
“The unilateral ceasefire was precisely set in place to provide an enabling environment for the ongoing peace talks,” Dureza said.
Dureza also alleged that some in the NDFP leadership are not in full control of their own forces on the ground or they are themselves undermining these efforts for sustainable peace, or pressuring the government for some concessions.
But NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said Dureza should stop sowing intrigue among the ranks of the revolutionary forces.
“We strongly advise Secretary Dureza not to raise the bogey of disunity among the ranks of the revolutionary movement,” Agcaoili said.
“The NDFP shall hold the GRP responsible for anything untoward that may happen to the ongoing peace negotiations as a result of its bellicose statements on the actions of the NPA to defend itself and protect communities after the Makilala incident,” Agcaoili said.
The NPA has ordered all its units, militia and self-defense corps to be on active defense mode from today until the expiration of their unilateral ceasefire declaration. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)