PRESIDENT DUTERTE in Basilan
MANILA — Peeved by an attack by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on militiamen in which one was killed in Davao del Norte, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the immediate lifting of the unilateral ceasefire against the communist rebels.
“I am ordering all security forces to be on high alert and continue to discharge their normal functions and mandate to neutralize all threats to national security, protect the citizenry, enforce the laws and maintain peace in the land,” he said in a statement.
President Duterte declared unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) during his first State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) last July 25 in line with achieving the government’s goal of final and lasting peace.
But the Chief Executive announced the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire that he ordered after the 5 p.m. Saturday ultimatum he gave lapsed without reciprocation from the communist rebels.
“Correspondingly, I am ordering the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to also withdraw the operational guidelines they issued in pursuance to that ceasefire declaration,” President Duterte said.
In Davao City, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza announced the lifting of ceasefire declaration by President Duterte at 7 p.m Saturday.
Dureza said there is no supervening factor that will affect the resumption of the formal peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on August 20 in Oslo, Norway.
”Let’s wait and see. But so far, as the moment, there is no supervening factor that will affect the upcoming talks in Oslo on August 20,” Dureza said.
The President also ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to also withdraw the operational guidelines they issued in pursuance to that ceasefire declaration.
The AFP said it remains duty bound to comply with any orders issued by the Chief Executive regarding this development.
“The AFP will abide by the ensuing orders of the Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte following this development,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said.
PNP Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said the PNP will follow.
“The PNP will follow the instructions of Commander-in-Chief,” Dela Rosa said
“I am ordering all security forces to be on high alert and continue to discharge their normal functions and mandate to neutralize all threats to national security, protect the citizenry , enforce the laws and maintain peace in the land,” the President said.
The lifting came after the National Democratic Front (NDF) failed to reciprocate the ceasefire declaration of the President for the 5 p.m deadline.
Although at 6:30 p.m the NDF said it would reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire but had asked for time to finish its investigation on the attack of the Army’s militiamen last Wednesday.
This was confirmed by GPH Peace panel chair Silvestre Bello Saturday evening as the 5 p.m deadline lapsed for the communist movement to reciprocate ceasefire.
“Please give us time to finish our investigation of the incident as reported by concerned NPA command,” Bello quoted NDF spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili.
Bello said that in a conversation with Agcaoili, the CPP would reciprocate the President’s ceasefire declaration.
Peace advocates in Central Luzon have expressed support to the order of President Duterte for the immediate lifting of his declaration of unilateral ceasefire against communist rebels.
Ernesto Angeles Alcanzare, lead organizer of Yes for Peace, said the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA )should have reciprocated the sincerity of President Duterte when he declared the imposition of a unilateral ceasefire between government forces and communist guerrillas.
“What is the NPA trying to prove? Are they telling us that they can attack government soldiers at will and get away with it? Or are they telling us that they reject President Duterte’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire?”
Alcanzare said that the recent attacks on government soldiers drew strong reactions from other sectors who are supporting the peace initiatives of President Duterte.
“Even their leaders wants peace. Everybody should do their share and work for the achievement of genuine and long lasting peace.We are all Filipinos, let’s all help end war in our country,” he said.
Alcanzare said that lawyer Domingo B. Alidon, president of the 20,000 strong Department of Education National Employees Union and long-time member of the Inter-Agency Technical Working Group of Yes for Peace has asked him: “Whose rights are the NPA really fighting for? The Filipino people’s rights or their right to bear arms against a duly elected government?”