MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has set a new deadline for the Communist Party of the Philippine (CPP) to reciprocate the government’s ceasefire: 5 pm on Saturday, July 30.
Duterte announced the new deadline on Friday, July 29, from the 60th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Asuncion, Davao del Norte.
He was in the camp to attend the wake of the government militia killed in an ambush by members of the New People’s Army on Wednesday, July 27.
“I am asking you, are you ready to declare ceasefire or not? I will, alas singko nang hapon (5 in the afternoon), I will wait for that declaration,” Duterte said, addressing the CPP.
“If I don’t get word from you, I will lift the order of ceasefire,” he added, and stressed that he has "dealt with everybody in good faith."
Duterte had given the CPP until Thursday midnight, July 29, to explain the ambush. He also demanded that CPP leaders punish those responsible for the attack just two days after he declared a unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels in his State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 25.
However, this is the first time Duterte has given the CPP a deadline to reciprocate the ceasefire declaration. CPP leader Joma Sison had said the group would respond to the ceasefire once he receives the full text of the declaration.
Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza said the ceasefire guidelines were sent to the CPP right after Duterte's ceasefire declaration on Monday.
The NPA, meanwhile, issued a statement blaming the military for attacking their troops on Wednesday.
The NPA accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines and armed paramilitary troops for ignoring Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire declaration by taking off for “combat operation” from their detachment in Gupitan on July 26, the day after Duterte announced the ceasefire.
The NPA claimed it was only defending itself from the government troops.
“Had the Red fighters not taken the initiative to actively defend itself by intercepting the 72nd IB/Alamara troops, the operating AFP troops would have carried out its own combat action and inflicted damage against the NPA unit,” reads the statement written by an NPA subregional command spokesman Aris Francisco.
The AFP, claim the communist rebels, “twisted facts” when it reported the operation to Duterte.
“The AFP is leaving out the glaring truth that its troops were clearly on combat operation and not engaged in ‘civilian’ activities, in direct violation to GRP Pres. Duterte’s ceasefire order,” they added.
The NPA described the Alamara paramilitary group as a “fanatical armed group that killed several of their own Lumad kin,” harassed civilians, and continue to displace Lumads.
But the NPA maintained that it wants the peace negotiations with the government to push through.
“The NPA abides with the spirit of the resumption of the peace negotiations…respects the ceasefire order of GPH Pres Duterte,” they said. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.