Reds set to revive unilateral ceasefire before March 31

THE Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced Saturday that it is set to issue a unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire with the government not later than March 31.

The CPP made the announcement following the release of two prisoners-of-war of its armed wing, the New People Army's (NPA), in Mati, Davao Oriental last Friday, March 24.

In a statement, the communist group said the impending truce with the state forces is "in anticipation and support" of the fourth round of peace talks between consultants of its political wing, the National Democratic Front, and the government's peace negotiators.

The government peace panel and NDF leaders are scheduled to meet in the Netherlands from April 2 to 6 to discuss the bilateral ceasefire agreement.

The CPP said it supports efforts between two parties to sign a bilateral ceasefire deal even as it anticipates "difficult negotiations".

It is expecting that President Rodrigo Duterte would reciprocate the end of hostilities with its armed wing, the NPA.

"[We] look forward to a similar unilateral ceasefire declaration by the [government] as mutually agreed upon in the March 10 to 11 backchannel talks," the CPP said, as it expressed dismay over the military’s "continuing campaign of aerial bombings and shelling".

"The CPP urges the Duterte regime to order the AFP to slow down its ongoing all-out offensive military operations and aerial bombing and shelling campaigns against rural barangays, to help create a favorable atmosphere for the mutual ceasefire," it added.

The communist party assured that its revolutionary forces would observe the declaration of ceasefire, once it takes effect, as they "are encouraged by the determination of NDF and [government] to continue with peace negotiations and accelerate negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms and the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms."

The agreements, the CPP said, should be completed within the year.

"There is pressing need to complete these agreements, especially in the face of mounting actions by workers, peasants and other oppressed sectors calling for genuine land reform, higher wages, job security, decent housing and increased social spending," it said.

On February 3, President Rodrigo Duterte decided to terminate the government's unilateral ceasefire after the CPP announced the termination of its unilateral truce last February 10, citing the death of soldiers following rebel attacks.

For its part, the cited several reasons for lifting it ceasefire, among them the non-compliance of the government peace panel in its obligation to amnesty and release all political prisoners under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees. (SunStar Philippines)

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