The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said it is set to issue a unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire not later than March 31 in anticipation and support of the fourth round of peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) set for April 2-6 in The Netherlands.
The CPP made the announcement following the release yesterday by the New People’s Army (NPA) of two prisoners-of-war (POWs) in Mati, Davao Oriental.
The CPP said it looks forward to a similar unilateral ceasefire declaration by the GRP as mutually agreed upon in the March 10-11 backchannel talks. The CPP urges the Duterte regime to order the AFP to slow down its ongoing all-out offensive military operations and aerial bombing and shelling campaigns against rural barangays, to help create a favorable atmosphere for the mutual ceasefire.
Also in line with the March 11 Joint Statement, the Party also anticipates the Duterte government to release 19 elderly and sick political prisoners, as well as four detained NDFP consultants and one other recently rearrested.
Support for continuing peace negotiations
The CPP said the revolutionary forces are encouraged by the determination of the NDFP and GRP to continue with peace negotiations and accelerate negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR).
The CPP said these agreements can be completed within the year through earnest negotiations. “There is pressing need to complete these agreements especially in the face of mounting mass actions by workers, peasants and other oppressed sectors calling for genuine land reform, higher wages, job security, decent housing and increased social spending.”
“Through peace negotiations, the Duterte government and the NDFP can unite on addressing the pressing socio-economic problems confronting the Filipino people amid the worsening crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal system and the global capitalist system.”
The CPP said it also supports efforts of the NDFP and GRP to forge a bilateral ceasefire even as it anticipates “difficult negotiations.”
Release of POWs
The CPP said the release of the two POWs yesterday was carried out as confidence-building measures to help boost peace negotiations. Released by the NPA were paramilitaries Rene Doller and Carl Mark Nucos who were captured by the NPA last February 14 in Lupon, Davao Oriental.
At least four other POWs are set to be released by the NPA in Surigao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat and Bukidnon. Their releases are being impeded by ongoing military and police operations in the area. The CPP urges the local commands of the AFP and PNP to stand down and coordinate with third-party facilitators to pave the way for the releases.
Bombings, shelling and offensive operations
The CPP denounced the AFP for its continuing campaign of aerial bombings and shelling which have caused widespread damage and fear among the peasant masses.
“In the face of the AFP’s all-out offensives and aerial bombing campaigns, the New People’s Army is compelled to carry out tactical offensives and active defense actions in order to defend the peasant masses,” said the CPP.
The most recent bombing runs were was carried out by the AFP last Wednesday, March 22, when AFP jet fighters dropped at least six bombs in the vicinity of Barangay Olave, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. One of the bombs exploded next to a school while classes were going on, endangering the lives of students and teachers and terrorizing the residents.
At least 60 troops of the 23rd IB entered Barangay Olave after the bombings. They arrested two civilians from Butuan City, Roland Abandola, 26, and Max Lagumba, 30, whom they chanced upon the footpath of Barangay Olave.
The AFP also carried out bombing runs in Malibcong, Abra last March 16 traumatizing residents and causing widespread damage to the forested areas and people’s livelihood. Last week, the AFP also conducted aerial bombing runs in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao forcing at least 3,000 families to evacuate.
Last month, the AFP also conducted aerial bombings against peasant communities in Laak, Compostela Valley, in Bansalan, Davao del Sur, in Asuncion, Davao del Norte, in Fatima, Davao City and in Alabel, Sarangani.
Meanwhile, the CPP rejected as “flat lies” reports of the AFP that NPA Red fighters hostaged residents in Barangay Camutan, Antipas, North Cotabato. Reports indicate that people were compelled to evacuate as soldiers belonging to the 39th IB scoured the barangay supposedly in search of members of the NPA. Barangay residents are being forced to move to the evacuation center where they are being detained by AFP soldiers.