Gov’t, NDFP recommend ceasefire during holiday season

THE government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panels have agreed to recommend a declaration of “unilateral and reciprocal” nationwide ceasefire during the Christmas season.

In a joint statement, both parties said they are recommending the declaration of ceasefire from 12 a.m. on Dec. 23, 2019 until 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2020.

“The parties shall separately issue the corresponding ceasefire orders. During the ceasefire period, the respective armed units and personnel of the parties shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military operations against the other,” it said.

“The ceasefire is intended to generate a positive environment conducive to the holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations. These shall be measures of goodwill and confidence building during the traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year holidays,” it added.

The statement, which was posted by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Joma Sison, was signed on Saturday, Dec. 21, in Utrecht in The Netherlands.

It was signed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who served as chief peace negotiator, and Hernani Braganza, former secretary and authorized negotiator for the government. NDFP negotiating panel senior adviser Luis Jalandoni and chairman Fidel Agcaoili signed for the other party.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who earlier said he would not recommend the declaration of a ceasefire, have yet to comment on the matter.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said he was also not in favor of declaring a ceasefire with the communist rebels during the holiday season.

Año, former chief of staff of the AFP, and Lorenzana both cited incidents in the past where communist rebels staged attacks against the government forces, particularly police and soldiers, despite the ceasefire.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said they don’t know yet if the ceasefire recommendation will be approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

In November 2017, Duterte ordered the termination of peace talks with the communist rebels over continuous attacks of its armed wing, the New People’s Army, despite the peace talks.

In March, the President ordered Bello to talk to Sison for the possible revival of the peace negotiations which, according to Bello, may start by January as the exiled communist has already agreed to meet with Duterte. (SUNSTAR PHILIPPINES)