PH gov’t, Reds declare holiday truce; eye resumption of peace talks

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government on Sunday ordered a “unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire” in response to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) directive to its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to halt offensives against state security forces during the holiday season.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for a holiday truce with the communist rebels will take effect from midnight on Monday until 11:59 p.m. on January 7, 2020.

The CPP earlier on Sunday, directed all the NPA units to stand down once the government declared a ceasefire for the holiday season.  

Panelo added the president also directed the Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to issue an official declaration to all its units and agents to observe the ceasefire order.

Duterte also ordered for the reconstitution of the Philippine government’s negotiating panel for the targeted resumption of peace talks with the communist rebels.

The panel members will include Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

Panelo said that with the holiday truce and reconstitution of the peace negotiating panel, the administration is looking forward to the return of peace talks between the government and the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Ties between Duterte and Sison went sour last year after the chief executive accused the rebel group of launching attacks against government forces even while the negotiations are ongoing.

In March 2019, Duterte formally terminated the peace process with the CPP-NDFP-NPA.

Last week, the chief executive sent Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who served as the government’s chief peace negotiator, to the Netherlands to initiate talks for the resumption of peace process with the reds. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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