Gov't, NDFP recommend ceasefire during holiday season

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

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

In a joint statement, both parties said they are recommending the declaration of ceasefire from 12 a.m. December 23, 2019 until 11:59 p.m. January 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 are 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, December 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, who were from the government side and NDFP negotiating panel senior adviser Luis Jalandoni and chairperson Fidel Agcaoili from the opposite party.

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

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

Año, who is the 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 Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said they don’t know yet if the ceasefire recommendation will be approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

On 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.

On 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 go face to face with Duterte. (SunStar Philippines)