MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 25, declared a unilateral ceasefire with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) “effective immediately.”
In his first State of the Nation Address, Duterte called for peace with both the communist guerrillas and Muslim rebels. “All of us want peace,” Duterte said. “Not the peace of the dead, but the peace of the living.” (LIVE: President Duterte’s SONA 2016)
The unilateral declaration of ceasefire by the President is expected to be reciprocated by the NPA, whose political arm, the National Democratic Front, is engaged in informal talks with the Duterte administration for the resumption of peace negotiations in August.
CPP founder Jose Maria Sison welcomed Duterte’s declaration.
The military also said it “will abide by the commander-in-chief’s instruction” but stressed that the organization “will remain alert, vigilant and ready to defend itself and pursue attackers if confronted by armed elements of the NPA.”
Military spokesman Col Restituto Padilla said in a statement: “The government has shown its sincerity and we expect no less from the other party. Our people long for and deserve peace and we shall work diligently as we have been doing all these years to deliver just that.”
The NPA is behind Asia’s longest running insurgency. Previous administrations have held peace talks with the communist movement, but the process always broke down for various reasons.
The last time the Philippine government announced a unilateral ceasefire (outside those announced during the holidays) was in 2011.
It was “in the spirit of goodwill and as part of confidence building measures” for the resumption of peace talks between the Aquino government and the Communist Party of the Philippines. It lasted 7 days from February 15 to 21.
On July 18, Duterte “approved in its entirety” the peace road map proposed by peace adviser Jesus Dureza. A law will be passed by the 17th Congress to enable the road map.
The agenda for the scheduled August 20 talks in Oslo are the following:
- Affirmation of previously-signed agreements
- Accelerated process for negotiations, including the timeline for completion of the remaining substantive agenda for the talks: socio-economic reforms; political and economic reforms; and end of hostilities and disposition of forces.
- Reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) list
- Amnesty Proclamation for the release of all detained political prisoners, subject to concurrence by Congress