There’s hope yet

CPP talks not dead despite withdrawal of truce order: Dureza
DID THE National Democratic Front respond too late on President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s offer of a unilateral ceasefire?

Sec. Jesus Dureza, presidential adviser on the peace process, said the response of the NDF last Saturday, an hour after President Duterte’s announcement of his withdrawal from the ceasefire offer, will be among the agenda at today’s scheduled cabinet meeting.

The NDF said through media that it was originally planning to declare a ceasefire at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

“I will make my corresponding recommendations to the President and the whole cabinet … Monday during the scheduled cabinet meeting in the afternoon,” Dureza said in a statement.

“After President Duterte ordered last night the lifting of the government’s unilateral ceasefire, the leadership of the CPP/NPA/NDF announced through the media its belated but still strategic and awaited decision to also declare its own unilateral ceasefire.”

President Duterte withdrew the offer of a unilateral ceasefire after the NDF sought for an extension and the results of its internal investigation regarding the incident last July 27.

“Indeed, this is a welcome development. It affirms the value of the President’s firm actions for peace. This is what we have been waiting for.”

Dureza said that they were hoping for an immediate response from the NDF since this was usually the case during the annual ceasefires of every year’s holiday season.

“This was precisely the reason for the President’s statement in the Sona that he was calling on and expecting the NDF to respond accordingly,” Dureza said.

Dureza said that the NDF could not immediately declare its own ceasefire “as they were waiting for the precise written orders.”

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police issued their respective policy guidance in response to the order.

“Copies thereof were sent immediately to the NDF in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Yet inspite of this, there was still no declaration from them,” Dureza said.

“By 5 o’clock in the afternoon of July 30, the final deadline the President announced lapsed and still there was no declaration from the NDF.”

“But the President still patiently waited.”

“From the above, it is very clear that the President walked the extra mile for peace. And no doubt, he will still continue to do so at any given opportunity.”

The President declared a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA/NDF during his state of the nation address.

He failed to get an answer from the NPA following the attack on government militia forces, resulting to one death and four others wounded, in Sitio Kamonuan, Barangay Kapalong in Davao del Norte at 6:45 a.m. on July 27.

The 10th Infantry Division claimed that the militia forces were in the process of going home following the order of Duterte for a ceasefire.

“I am hereby ordering the immediate lifting of the ceasefire,” Duterte said in a statement published in the government website. “I am ordering all security forces to be on high alert and continue to discharge their normal functions to neutralise all threats to national security.”

The NPA, instead, accused the military of not complying with the ceasefire order, as it insisted that the ambushed personnel were actually operating in the area.

Aris Francisco, NPA-ComVal North Davao South Agusan Subregional Command spokesperson, said paramilitary forces and the AFP have been engaging the NPA in Kapalong, Davao del Norte.

The unit reportedly moved from their detachment on July 26 towards NPA targets located some 20 kilometers away. The SCAAs, Francisco said, were the ones who were setting up the ambush.

“Had the Red fighters not taken the initiative to actively defend itself by intercepting the 72nd Infantry Battalion Alamara troops, the operating AFP troops would have carried out its own combat action and inflicted damage against the NPA unit,” Francisco said.

In a statement, however, 10th ID spokesperson Rhyan Batchar said the division “strongly take offense on the malicious and unfounded allegations of the NPA spokesperson that the AFP deceived the President on the ambush of CAAs in Davao del Norte on July 27.

“The NPA’s allegation is completely false as the ambush site is two to three days’ walk from the CAA patrol base in Sitio Patil, Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte and the ambush happened at about 6:45 in the morning of July 27,” Batchar said.

Meanwhile, President Duterte gave a financial assistance to the Cafgu Active Auxiliary (CAA) members who were reportedly attacked by communist rebels on Wednesday last week.

Duterte said that the family of CAA Panggong Komanod shall receive P250,000 while the wounded Cafgus, Pelo Macuarpil and Sammy Gebang, will get P50,000.

The President reminded both government militias and soldiers to remain calm even after this setback.

“Don’t keep hatred in your heart,” he said.

In an interview aired over ANC, NDF founding chairman Jose Maria Sison said that they are always willing to talk peace with the government. However, the formal negotiations won’t happen until this month.

“The negotiating panels of both sides should talk so whatever miscommunication will be resolved,” Sison said.

Sison also accused the AFP of not following the orders of their commander-in-chief. (with reports from Rhoda Grace Saron)

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