THE Duterte administration respects the decision of the New People Army’s (NPA) to withdraw its unilateral ceasefire with the government, Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza said on Wednesday.

“We respect their decision,” Dureza said in a statement, in reaction to NPA’s move to cancel its truce with the government.

Dureza, however, admitted that the government was “dismayed” that the NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), had to terminate its ceasefire.

“This cancellation came just after some progress were made in the third round of talks in Rome, where negotiating panels from both sides agreed to further discuss a bilateral ceasefire in the Netherlands sometime end of this month,” he said.

The government and the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), resumed its peace dialogue in Rome, Italy last January 20 to discuss several matters, including the crafting of bilateral ceasefire agreement.

But earlier in the day, NPA spokesman Jorge Madlos said the truce ends February 10.

Despite the NPA’s announcement, Dureza said he would ask President Rodrigo Duterte not to lift the unilateral ceasefire with the communist rebels.

“This will provide an enabling and conducive environment to the ongoing peace talks,” he said.

Dureza also said that he will urge the government forces to continue its relentless campaign to protect the civilians from harm and terrorism.

The presidential peace adviser earlier expressed dismay over the NPA’s series of attacks against the government troops.

“We agree that the situation, with various incidents on the ground, had become untenable to sustain without the guidelines and protocols that a bilateral ceasefire provides,” Dureza said.

Dureza, however, is still optimistic that the two parties would be able to resolve the issue in pursuit of peace in embattled Mindanao.

“Despite these, however, we are still hopeful that the search for peace will continue and the tragedy of Filipinos fighting fellow Filipinos will come to an early end. As we always stress, the road to peace is not easy to traverse. What is important is that we all stay the course,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)