By Lilian C. Mellejor
After President Rodrigo Duterte called off the July 25 government’s unilateral ceasefire, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) declared its own ceasefire on Saturday.
This was announced in a press statement on Sunday by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, who said, “The leadership of the CPP-NPA-NDF announced through the media its belated but still strategic and awaited decision to also declare its own unilateral ceasefire.”
Dureza welcomed this development as it affirms the value of the President’s firm actions for peace. “This is what we have been waiting for,” he said.
Dureza was positive the President will still walk the extra mile for peace at any given opportunity. Given this, Dureza assured that he would make his corresponding recommendations to the President and the whole cabinet in the cabinet meeting.
It may be recalled that at 5:30 p.m on Saturday, the President has ordered the immediate lifting of the unilateral ceasefire declared last July 25 against the communist rebels.
The President also ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to also withdraw the operational guidelines they issued in pursuance to that ceasefire declaration.
“I am ordering all security forces to be on high alert and continue to discharge their normal functions and mandate to neutralize all threats to national security, protect the citizenry, enforce the laws and maintain peace in the land,” the President said in a statement issued through Dureza.
The lifting came after the CPP-NPA-NDF failed to reciprocate the ceasefire declaration of the President for the Saturday’s 5:00 p.m deadline.
Although at 6:30 p.m, the NDF said it will reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire but has asked for more time to finish its investigation on the attack of the Army’s militiamen on Wednesday.
GPH Peace panel chair Silvestre Bello on Saturday evening shared to the media a text message from NDF Spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili saying, “Please give us time to finish our investigation of the incident as reported by concerned NPA command.”
Agcaoili had said the CPP will reciprocate the President’s ceasefire declaration.
On Friday, Duterte gave the CPP-NPA-NDF an ultimatum to also declare a truce after a rebel attack on militiamen on Wednesday, two days following the Chief Executive’s pronouncement of a unilateral ceasefire.
He gave the ultimatum during his visit at the 60th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Barangay Doña Andrea, Asuncion to visit the wake of the militiaman slain in the ambush by NPA in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte.
Duterte had warned that if the Communist would not reciprocate the government’s ceasefire and not give a justifiable reason for the attack, he would have no other course but to retract the truce declaration.
Order of events
July 25 – President Duterte declared unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA/NDF to stop violence on the ground
July 26 – The NDF announced to wait for the precise written orders on the ceasefire.
July 27 – NPA rebels ambushed members of the Army’s militiamen in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte.
July 28 – President Duterte demanded the CPP-NPA-NDF to explain why the ambush happened.
July 29 – Duterte asked the CPP-NPA-NDF to reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire by 5:00 p.m. July 30.
July 30 – The final deadline for the reciprocation of the government’s ceasefire lapsed. Duterte lifted the unilateral ceasefire. (PNA)