CPP to declare indefinite ceasefire – Joma Sison

OSLO, Norway (2nd UPDATE) – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) will declare an "indefinite ceasefire" that will take effect on August 28, CPP founder Jose Maria Sison said here on the sidelines of the ongoing formal talks between the Philippine government and the communist guerrillas.

"Goodwill ceasefire will end, and then a new ceasefire order will take over," Sison told Rappler on Wednesday, August 24. 

Prior to the talks, the CPP-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) declared a limited 7-day ceasefire, which will end on Saturday, August 27. The new ceasefire order will be issued before the first one expires, he said.

What the rebels will be declaring after this, Sison said, "will be much longer than 7 days" starting Sunday, August 28, to reciprocate the government's declaration of ceasefire. 

On Thursday, August 25, Sison told reporters that the ceasefire order will be "indefinite," its duration will depend on "certain conditions and certain circumstances."

"Magpapatuloy hanggang (It will last until) it becomes clear kung makukuha ba ang (if we are going to get the) amnesty for all political prisoners," Sison earlier told Rappler.

Earlier, Philippine chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III expressed confidence that the guerrillas were "seriously considering [extending the ceasefire]."

The CPP-NPA is behind Asia's longest running insurgency. Talks resumed after an impasse of 5 years, and the guerrillas are represented at the negotiating table by their political arm, the National Democratic Front.

The rebel group now counts just 4,000 members, down from 26,000 in the 1980s, though it enjoys the support of the poorest people in rural areas (READ: Fast facts: The CPP-NPA-NDF and the Oslo talks).

Jalandoni said the NPA ground troops are regularly updated about the status of negotiations in Oslo. 

"We have modern communication. Kapag nakapag-agree dito at nakapag-agree sa leadership doon, bababa yan sa lahat ng units. Napag-usapan na ito matagal na. Nashi-share ito sa leadership at command sa Philippines (If we agree here (Europe) and the leadership there (Philippines) also agree, it will go down to all the units. We have long been talking about this. We share that status of talks with the leadership and command in the Philippines)," Jalandoni told reporters.

On Tuesday, August 23, the panels agreed to respect agreements signed during previous administrations and to reconstitute the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) or the list of NDF members who should be spared arrest.

The panels agreed to fast track the process. Instead of discussing substantive issues one after another, they will allow simultaneous committee discussions on the following issues:

CASER is expected to be the most contentious among these issues, but the government panel seeks to have a draft agreement on the issue within 6 months or by February 2017.

Government negotiator Hernani Braganza will handle CASER. – Rappler.com