MANILA, Philippines – Exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison on Saturday night, July 30, called out President Rodrigo Duterte for his hasty decision to end a unilateral government ceasefire with communist rebels.
Sison said in a phone patch interview with ANC that the New People’s Army (NPA) was already preparing to reciprocate the government’s ceasefire declaration at 8 pm – an hour after the President announced that he was lifting the ceasefire order.
“Volatility, lack of prudence in something as sensitive and delicate as peace negotiations between two armed fighting sides – it’s hard to agree with people who are quick to judgment,” he said, referring to Duterte.
The President had set a 5 pm, July 30 deadline for the Communist Party of the Philippines to reciprocate the government’s ceasefire declaration. With no word from the CPP, Duterte ordered the lifting of his ceasefire declaration at 7 pm that day.
Sison said that the CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front) cannot be dictated upon by the Philippine leader.
“The revolutionary movement is treated as if it’s a servant of the new boss. That cannot be,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Sison said Duterte could not give an “ultimatum” to them, adding that they were just asking for “a few more hours, days.” The CPP leadership was looking into the incident the prompted Duterte’s deadline, an NPA attack on government militias in Davao del Norte, which killed one and hurt 4 others on the government side.
The incident happened two days after Duterte announced the ceasefire in his State of the Nation Address. The NPA, however, claims that the government militias initiated the attack, and the rebels just fought back.
He said, however, that despite the development, formal peace talks will resume as scheduled Oslo, Norway, on August 20.
In April, Sison and his former student, Duterte, had a conversation on Skype where they agreed to observe a ceasefire between government and New People’s Army (NPA) if Duterte were elected as president. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com