THE Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced today it is set to issue another unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire not later than March 31.
In a press statement, the CPP Information Bureau said its ceasefire declaration is in anticipation and support of the fourth round of peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) set for April 2-6 in The Netherlands.
The CPP said it expects a similar unilateral ceasefire declaration by the Rodrigo Duterte government in accordance with the GRP-NDFP Utrecht Joint Statement of March 11.
The CPP made the announcement following its release yesterday in Mati, Davao Oriental of two GRP militia members held as prisoners-of-war by the New People’s Army (NPA).
Paramilitaries Rene Doller and Carl Mark Nucos were captured by the NPA last February 14 in Lupon, Davao Oriental.
At least four other POWs are set to be released by the NPA in Surigao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat and Bukidnon, pending GRP’s suspension of military and police operations in the said areas, the CPP said.
“The CPP urges local AFP and PNP commands to stand down and coordinate with third-party facilitators to pave the way for the releases,” it said.
It also said it urges the Duterte government to order the AFP to slow down its ongoing all-out offensive military operations, aerial bombing and shelling campaigns against rural communities.
The CPP said it anticipates the Duterte government to release 19 elderly and sick political prisoners, four NDFP consultants detained at the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa, as well as recently rearrested NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario in line with the March 11 Joint Statement.
Such moves will help create favorable atmosphere for the discussion of the proposed mutual ceasefire agreement, the group said.
Accelerated peace negotiations
The CPP said NDFP and GRP agreements on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR) can be completed within the year.
The CPP said that despite setbacks its forces are encouraged by the determination of the NDFP and GRP to continue with peace negotiations and accelerate negotiations.
Duterte suspended NDFP-GRP peace negotiations last month by Duterte following CPP’s termination of its unilateral ceasefire declaration due to intensified Armed Forces of the Philippines operations against the NPA as well as the “militarization” of about 500 communities perceived to be supportive of the Leftist guerrillas.
Back channel negotiations by NDFP and GRP representatives last March 10 and 11 however agreed to resume formal talks.
“There is pressing need to complete these agreements especially in the face of mounting mass actions by workers, peasants and other oppressed sectors calling for genuine land reform, higher wages, job security, decent housing and increased social spending,” the CPP said.
“Through peace negotiations, the Duterte government and the NDFP can unite on addressing the pressing socio-economic problems confronting the Filipino people amid the worsening crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal system and the global capitalist system,” it added.
The CPP said it also supports efforts of the NDFP and GRP to forge a bilateral ceasefire even as it anticipates “difficult negotiations.”
The GRP Negotiating Panel has yet to issue a statement to the CPP announcement. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)