The Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army announced today its unilateral declaration of a 7-day ceasefire to ‘celebrate’ and as a gesture of goodwill for the formal resumption of the peace negotiations between their group represented by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Government of the Philippines.
In a statement, the Information Bureau of the CPP said that the effectivity of the ceasefire will start at 12:01 a.m. of August 21 until 11:59 p.m. of August 27 in time for the August 22-26 negotiations between the GPH headed by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and the NDFP represented by Luis Jalandoni.
“This ceasefire declaration is encouraged by the GRP’s facilitation of the release of nearly all NDFP consultants who are set to participate in peace negotiations in the course of the next several months,” said the CPP and NPA.
As of August 19, 19 jailed NDFP peace consultants have already been freed to take part in the negotiations including top communist leaders Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria who were released from Camp Crame’s Custodial Center earlier today.
The Communist party also expects the release of all other peace consultants of the NDFP “so that everyone can participate in the peace talks.” CPP also mentioned the particular case of Eduardo Sarmiento, NDFP’s peace consultant from Eastern Visayas who is currently detained at the Maximum security compound of the National Penetentiary in Muntinlupa City. Sarmiento is currently serving a life sentence from what the CPP called as “unjust conviction from trumped-up murder charges”. Another peace consultant from Eastern Visayas of the NDFP who is still in jail is Renato Baleros, currently detained at the Samar Provincial Jail in Catbalogan City.
The CPP also sees the Oslo talks as a venue to discuss a possible recommendation for Duterte to issue a general amnesty to release all political prisoners all over the country. In a press conference earlier today, Benito Tiamzon said that most of the political prisoners that counts to as much as 500 individuals are peasant and labor activists maliciously charged with criminal cases.
The communist leadership in the country is hopeful in accelerating the peace process under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. The CPP extended its “deep appreciation of the determined efforts” of Duterte in pushing forward the peace talks as “a means of addressing the roots of the civil war in the Philippines.”
It clarified, however, that the ceasefire declaration will take effect even without GRP reciprocation. “With or without reciprocation by the GRP, the NPA must maintain a high-level of alertness against enemy troop movements,” it added.
“To further bolster peace negotiations, the CPP and NPA are also open to discuss the possibility of a longer ceasefire upon completion of the release of all political prisoners,” said the CPP.