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Duterte restores ceasefire with communist rebels

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte has restored the unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels effective midnight, August 21.

The President made the move on Saturday, August 20, ahead of the 5-day formal peace talks to be held in Oslo, Norway, between Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

"Today, the President restores the effects of that ceasefire declaration precisely at this strategic time when we are all at the onset of the formal resumption of peace talks that had previously stalled for the last 4 years," Chief Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza said in a press conference on Saturday, hours before flying to Oslo.

"The duration of the ceasefire will last for as long as necessary to bring peace in the land and also in order to provide an enabling environment for the success of the peace negotiations that will start in Oslo, Norway, on August 22," he added.

Dureza said that the operational guidelines of the ceasefire declaration for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, and other security forces of the government are also restored.

The ceasefire will be effective midnight of August 21, coinciding with the communist rebels' unilateral ceasefire.

In a statement, the AFP said, "We are as hopeful, and as prayerful as the nation and its people, that this restoration of ceasefire by the President will be matched with the same zeal and sincerity by the other party."

In  his first State of the Nation Address on July 25, Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF, but lifted the declaration on July 30, after the other party failed to meet his deadline to reciprocate the government ceasefire.

The government's announcement comes a day after the CPP-NPA declared a 7-day unilateral ceasefire effective until 11:59 pm of Saturday, August 27. 

Alleged CPP chief Benito Tiamzon welcomed the declaration, calling it a "good move," a demonstration of "goodwill", and a "confidence-building measure" on the part of the President.– Rappler.com