The leftist rebel group New People’s Army has terminated the unilateral ceasefire they declared last August, which is supposed to end on February 10, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.
“The August 28, 2016 unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire issued by the Central Committee of the CPP (CPP-CC) and the National Operations Command of the New People’s Army (NPA-NOC) is hereby terminated,” NPA spokesperson Ka Oris said in a statement.
“From today (February 1, 2017) until the expiration of the ceasefire declaration, all commands and units of the NPA, including the people’s militia and self-defense corps, are tasked to take initiative and more vigorously carry out active defense in order to defend the people and revolutionary forces,” Oris added.
The NPA pointed to the government’s failure to release all political prisoners Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees as one of the reasons for the termination of the interim ceasefire.
They also accused the government of “treacherously” taking advantage of the unilateral ceasefire to intrude into NPA territories.
“Across 164 municipalities and 43 provinces, the GRP’s armed forces have occupied at least 500 barrios which are within the authority of the revolutionary government,” Oris revealed.
Despite the cancellation of the unilateral ceasefire, the NPA still vowed to support the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
“In our experience and in the experience of other peoples, it is possible to negotiate while fighting until the substantive agreements are forged to address the roots of the armed conflict and lay the basis for a just and lasting peace,” Oris disclosed.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza for his part expressed dismay on the series of recent attacks and harassments by the NPA in various areas nationwide.
In a statement he said that “the unilateral ceasefire was precisely set in place to provide an enabling environment for the ongoing peace talks and also to secure the support of the stakeholders and the bigger public in understanding and supporting these unprecedented, although small but significant steps, for sustainable peace in the land.”
“We do not wish to unnecessarily squander those gains that even saw President Duterte exercising strong political will to move the peace process forward,” Dureza added.
Dureza also criticized the National Democratic Front leadership for not having full control of their own forces.
“Either some in NDF leadership talking to the government are not in full control of their own forces on the ground or they are themselves undermining these efforts for sustainable peace, or pressuring government for certain concessions,” he said.
Dureza said that the “the President will definitely walk the extra mile for peace. But our counterparts on the other side of the peace table must also reciprocate accordingly and do the same.”
“The road to peace is not smooth and easy. Let us all help to successfully traverse it.”