Holiday ceasefire with CPP pushed after informal talks

Sofia Tomacruz

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Holiday ceasefire with CPP pushed after informal talks
The proposed ceasefire from December 23 to January 7 will need the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Communist Party of the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine government officials and communist rebels have recommended a holiday ceasefire, after informal talks between the two parties took place in the Netherlands in early December.

It is now awaiting the decisions of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Communist Party of the Philippines. 

In a joint statement signed on Saturday, December 21, and shared with media on Sunday, December 22, officials from the Philippine government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said the proposed ceasefire will run from midnight of December 23, 2019 to 11:59 pm of January 7, 2020.

“The ceasefires are intended to generate a positive environment conducive to the holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume peace negotiations,” they said.

Ceasefires, they added, will also serve as “measures of goodwill and confidence building” as the Philippines celebrates Christmas and New Year.

The joint statement was signed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and authorized negotiator Hernani Braganza, and the NDFP negotiating panel’s senior adviser Luis Jalandoni and chairperson Fidel Agcaoili. The signing was witnessed by third party facilitator from the Norwegian government Kristina Revhelm at Utrecht, Netherlands.

What comes next? For the ceasefire to take effect, Duterte and the CPP will have to agree to the recommendation and issue corresponding ceasefire orders separately. 

During the ceasefire period, armed units and personnel of both the government and CPP “shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military operations” against one another.

Back on track? The recommendation for a ceasefire takes place despite Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier saying he would not recommend one to Duterte since the CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army, violated past ceasefires.

Lorenzana said this was seen when the NPA supposedly continued invading and extorting money from villages even though they refrained from attacking government troops.

Last Christmas, Duterte did not declare a holiday ceasefire with communist insurgents.

The latest resumption of peace talks with the Left is supposedly Duterte’s last attempt at a peace deal with the communists. Formal talks have yet to take place after the Philippine government and the CPP encountered their first deadlock over where to hold the negotiations. 

Prior to reviving negotiations, Duterte moved aggressively against the Left, declaring the CPP and its “legal fronts” as terrorist organizations, attempting to cut foreign funding for communist “legal fronts,” and even targeting university campuses suspected of being Leftist recruitment grounds. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.