THE business community in Davao City, headed by the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII), were dismayed at the New People's Army’s (NPA) termination of their five-month unilateral ceasefire.

DCCCII president Ronald Go told SunStar Davao, in a phone interview, the business community “sincerely regrets this development.”

“Our country needs to move forward and we have seen that more than 50 years of armed struggle has only hampered our opportunities for progress and development,” he said.

He added dialogue or non-violent means should be aggressively pursued at this time.

Go emphasized with peace, the country can move forward with development and nation building.

“We hope the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) will come back to the table soon,” he said.

Bayan Muna representative Carlos Isagani Zarate, vice chair of the Congress Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, in a statement Wednesday, February 1, said the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire of the NPA should not mean a stop to the negotiations on the substantive agenda of the peace process, instead push both panels to further expedite the talks to finally address the roots of the armed conflict.

Zarate said months prior the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire, they have received numerous reports from Mindanao and Luzon of continuing military operations targeting lumads and farmers resulting in the displacements, killings of peasant and Indigenous People leaders and activists and other human rights violations.

“We hope that President Duterte would rein the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its paramilitary groups from sowing violence in the hinterland areas in the guise of peace of peace and development missions, because in the reality, these are just military counter insurgency operations in disguise,” he said.

Zarate added during the third round of peace talks in Rome, complaints about the continued militarization, particularly of lumad communities, and human rights violations have been raised by the National Democratic Front.

“The panels though are still committed to still move forward by discussing to the substantive agenda, the socio-economic reforms: the talks were intense but cordial,” Zarate said.

In a statement released Wednesday, NPA spokesman Jorge Madlos announced that their unilateral ceasefire ends on February 10.

“With this declaration and notice, the August 28 unilateral ceasefire shall effectively expire on 11:59 p.m. of February 10,” Madlos said.

Madlos explained the government “has not complied with its obligation to amnesty and release all political prisoners.”

“The Duterte regime failed to fulfill such obligation even though the CPP oblige it by extending the ceasefire declaration to more than 150 days,” he said. (with ICT/SunStar Philippines)