By: Karlos Manlupig – Correspondent / @kmanlupigINQ
Inquirer Mindanao / 09:59 AM March 19, 2020
DAVAO CITY, Philippines —-The leadership of the communist movement in the country welcomes with some apprehension the unilateral ceasefire declaration of President Duterte on Wednesday, March 18.
Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison said the rebel movement is still searching for a clear basis before they reciprocate the ceasefire declaration.
Duterte on Wednesday announced, through presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the ceasefire, ordering all government forces to cease and desist all operations against communist fighters from March 19 to April 15.
The government explained that the unilateral ceasefire order is part of efforts to contain the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.
“There is communication going on between the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) negotiating panels. But there is yet no agreement for reciprocal unilateral ceasefires in connection with certain considerations, requirements, and modalities. There has to be catch-up on these matters, if still possible,” Sison said.
Calling the declaration premature, Sison said that the NDF is “not assured and satisfied” that the ceasefire is based on national unity against the effects of the pandemic in the country.
“Unless it receives sufficient assurances from the GRP, the NDFP will be inclined to think that the GRP unilateral ceasefire declaration is not sincere and is not intended to invite reciprocation by the NDFP but is meant to be a mere psywar (psychological war) trick,” Sison added.
Sison explained that the apprehensions of the communist movement is based on several recent experiences including the attacks on legal activists and the alleged “militarist” lockdown in Luzon.
“Despite all the above, the NDFP continues to hope that the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels come to clear terms on certain considerations, requirements and modalities for the benefit of the people. Promises of Duterte, such as doing a good turn from a good heart, can be believed only as they are realized promptly and according to a definite schedule,” Sison said.
The peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front successfully completed four productive rounds until it collapsed after martial law was declared throughout Mindanao following the hostilities in Marawi City in 2017.
One of the major achievements in the negotiations was the initial agreements on social and economic reforms including the basic principle of an agrarian reform program founded on free land distribution.