PH gov’t, Reds declare holiday truce; eye resumption of peace talks

Robie de Guzman   •   December 23, 2019   •   471

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government on Sunday ordered a “unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire” in response to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) directive to its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to halt offensives against state security forces during the holiday season.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for a holiday truce with the communist rebels will take effect from midnight on Monday until 11:59 p.m. on January 7, 2020.

The CPP earlier on Sunday, directed all the NPA units to stand down once the government declared a ceasefire for the holiday season.  

Panelo added the president also directed the Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to issue an official declaration to all its units and agents to observe the ceasefire order.

Duterte also ordered for the reconstitution of the Philippine government’s negotiating panel for the targeted resumption of peace talks with the communist rebels.

The panel members will include Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

Panelo said that with the holiday truce and reconstitution of the peace negotiating panel, the administration is looking forward to the return of peace talks between the government and the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Ties between Duterte and Sison went sour last year after the chief executive accused the rebel group of launching attacks against government forces even while the negotiations are ongoing.

In March 2019, Duterte formally terminated the peace process with the CPP-NDFP-NPA.

Last week, the chief executive sent Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who served as the government’s chief peace negotiator, to the Netherlands to initiate talks for the resumption of peace process with the reds. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte ends peace talks with Reds for killing soldiers in relief missions

Marje Pelayo   •   April 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The series of attacks against government forces on humanitarian missions during this time of crisis is the final straw for President Rodrigo Duterte to end peace talks with the communist rebels.

“I’m so sad about this development but there will always be a time for reckoning. There is no more peace talks to talk about,” the Chief Executive said in his late night address on Monday (April 27).

A number of soldiers were killed and wounded in several encounters with members of the New People’s Army — the Communist Party of the Philippines’ armed wing — throughout the month of April.

Three soldiers died and four others were hurt in an encounter with the NPA while conducting security patrol during the distribution of the social amelioration grant in Sitio Tugas, Barangay Carabalan in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental on April 19.

An Army soldier was also killed in a remote village in San Jacinto town, Masbate province on the same day.

Two soldiers, meanwhile, were killed while three others were wounded in an attack by communist rebels in Aurora province on April 21. The soldiers were stationed in the area guarding the conduct of aid distribution. 

Two more soldiers were injured in an attack by NPA rebels in Victorias City, Negros Occidental on April 24.

The Philippine Army said the soldiers, together with members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were conducting a security patrol and information dissemination about COVID-19 in the area.

“I am not and I will never be ready for any rounds of peace talks simply because the NPA, the Communist Party of the Philippines, has no respect either for their spoken works or in their deeds of killing soldiers who are on humanitarian missions,” President Duterte stressed.

READ: Duterte threatens to declare martial law if NPA attacks continue

The President earlier threatened to declare martial law if atrocities against government forces engaged in relief distribution continue. 

READ: Duterte’s new martial law threat, a cover-up for failed COVID-19 response — CPP

But the CPP, unfazed by the President’s warning, responded by accusing him of using the NPA as an excuse ‘to cover up’ the administration’s failed response against the COVID-19 crisis and to carry out his agenda of imposing martial law. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte threatens to declare martial law if NPA attacks continue

Marje Pelayo   •   April 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte emphatically threatened to declare martial law if ‘lawlessness’ and attacks by New People’s Army (NPA) will continue against government forces escorting aid distribution in villages amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In his public address aired on Friday (April 24) the President said he is directing the military and police for that matter.

“I am now warning everybody and putting notice to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and police. I might declare martial law and there will be no turning back,” President Duterte said.

Army officials have reported recent attacks by NPA rebels on government relief operations such as in Aurora province and in Davao City, killing two soldiers and wounding two others, respectively.

According to the Constitution, any part of the country may be placed under military or martial rule “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”

On April 16, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the political arm of the NPA, announced that it was extending the unilateral ceasefire with government forces until the end of April to give priority to COVID-19 response. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

READ: Ceasefire extension with NPA up to Duterte, anti-insurgency task force – Palace

Ceasefire extension with NPA up to Duterte, anti-insurgency task force – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The decision on whether or not to extend the administration’s unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels is up to President Rodrigo Duterte and the National Task Force on Ending Local Armed Conflict, Malacañang said on Sunday.

“On whether government would extend the unilateral ceasefire, this matter is something the National Task Force on Ending Local Armed Conflict can discuss with the President,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

The government’s declaration of unilateral ceasefire against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) lapsed on April 15 while the rebels extended its truce until April 30 or until the end of the COVID-19 Luzon-wide community quarantine.

However, Roque said the rebels violated their own declaration of ceasefire when they “forcibly seized relief goods last April 7 intended for Barangay Guinmayohan residents in Balangiga, Eastern Samar” who were affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

“The call for peace is everyone’s desire and it has become more urgent in the present state of calamity and public health emergency,” he said.

“We find it, however, unfortunate that the members of the New People’s Army (NPA) themselves violated their own declaration of truce in the form of violent armed encounters with government troops,” he added.

The CPP earlier denied it was behind the incident in Samar, accusing the military of resorting to outright lies and propaganda amid the COVID-19 crisis.

But the Armed Forces of the Philippines stood by the veracity of its report against the CPP-NPA. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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