On GRP President’s unilateral declaration of an indefinite ceasefire

The CPP welcomes the unilateral declaration by GRP President Duterte of an indefinite ceasefire to reciprocate the earlier 7-day ceasefire issued by the CPP and NPA.

The CPP hopes it could soon match the GRP President’s indefinite ceasefire declaration with a unilateral declaration of an interim ceasefire. This declaration can be issued soon after the completion of the release of at least five more NDFP consultants and around 520 political prisoners nationwide through a presidential proclamation of general amnesty as earlier broached by the GRP President.

Hopefully, the GRP President can issue such a proclamation soon after the resumption of peace talks in order to encourage the CPP to expeditiously issue its declaration of interim ceasefire during the course of the peace negotiations.

These matters are among the top items in the agenda of the scheduled talks on August 22-26 in Oslo, Norway between the negotiating panels of the GRP and NDFP.

The CPP and all revolutionary forces recognize the extra effort of GRP President Duterte to boost the peace talks. After the current 7-day ceasefire declaration by the CPP lapses on August 27, and until the CPP can issue a unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire, the CPP can task the NPA to stand down and remain on active defense. Details will be issued after the Oslo talks.

While recognizing the GRP President’s efforts to boost the peace talks, the CPP wishes to express its concern over particular provisions of the operational guidelines reissued by the AFP. In these guidelines, the chief-of staff orders AFP troops to continue with so-called “peace and development” operations under the much-detested Oplan Bayanihan.

These operations, such as those being carried out in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, have been used in the past to justify the militarization of communities in the guerrilla zones and to carry out surveillance and harassment operations against community activists and leaders whom the AFP suspects of being members of local CPP branches and peasant organizations.

Hopefully, the GRP President can consider ordering specific units of the AFP to be withdrawn from their detachments inside civilian communities to bolster the people’s trust in the GRP President’s determination to pursue the path of peace.

The CPP would also like to draw the GRP President’s attention to the successive arrests by military and police operatives over the past days. Last August 12, national peasant leader Antonio Pajalla was arrested in Macalelon, Quezon and charged with rebellion. Last Friday, Mindanao-based missionary Amelia Pond was arrested while in Cebu to attend an assembly of rural missionaries. She was slapped with murder charges. We urge the GRP President to effect their immediate release.