DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines would not extend its unilateral ceasefire unless President Rodrigo Duterte ends or suspends the military’s counter-insurgency program called “Oplan Bayanihan.”
The CPP, in a statement Wednesday, insisted that Duterte must end “the continued suppression operations against the people and the revolutionary government.”
“He [Duterte] must order the Armed Forces of the Philippines to withdraw its armed combatants from the guerrilla zones and areas under the control of the revolutionary government,” the communist group said.
CPP said if Duterte fulfills this by January, it guaranteed an extension of its unilateral ceasefire declaration and it would also “encourage the revolutionary forces to forge with it a bilateral ceasefire to boost accelerated negotiations for a just and lasting peace.”
CPP also scored the AFP for deploying armed units in civilian communities while the unilateral ceasefire is in effect.
“The AFP has deployed armed units and maintained armed presence in centers of civilian communities in violation of the CARHRIHL and international protocols which protect the welfare of civilians in times of war,” it said.
The CPP warned that if Duterte won’t stop the continued military deployment in the communities and areas believed to be strongholds of the communist rebels, a war may erupt soon.
“Duterte will be virtually setting the stage for widespread armed clashes with the New People’s Army as Red fighters will be forced to engage in active defense and defend the people against abuses by the forward-deployed combat troops of the AFP. He will only have himself to blame if this forces the hand of the CPP to terminate its unilateral ceasefire declaration,” it said.
Apart from demanding an end to the government’s counter-insurgency program, the CPP demanded that the President “must also fulfill his promise to free political prisoners en masse through an amnesty proclamation.”
The CPP statement came after Duterte instructed members of the government panel on Monday to come up with a signed bilateral ceasefire agreement before he will release political prisoners.
“Produce to me a signed bilateral ceasefire agreement and I will release them within 48 hours. You can take my word for it,” GRP panel chief and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III quoted the president as saying.
While Duterte promised to release a number of elderly and ailing detainees before Christmas, he also told Malacañang Palace that the government has “conceded far enough” to the NDF.
“The president told us that once he receives even just a facsimile copy of the signed agreement, he will immediately order the release of communist rebels,” Bello said.
The government panel holding peace talks with the NDF has submitted a list of 200 prisoners who are eligible for release under the new guidelines of the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Parole (PCBREP). Twenty-five (25) of them are elderly, sick and women.
Karapatan Alliance for Human Rights said there are 400 political prisoners detained all over the country.(davaotoday.com)