QUEZON CITY - President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday announced a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front effective immediately, and called on the National Democratic Front and its forces to respond accordingly.
The president made the announcement in his 1 hour and 32-minute State of the Nation Address, where he said “All of us want peace, not the peace of the dead but the peace of the living.”
“Let us end these decades of ambuscades and skirmishes. We are going nowhere. And it is getting bloodier by the day,” Duterte said, adding that to provide an enabling environment conducive to the resumption of the peace talks he is announcing a unilateral ceasefire.
“We will strive to have a permanent and lasting peace before my term ends. That is my goal, that is my dream,” he said.
As a sign of goodwill, Duterte also gave Cabinet positions to some perceived to be left-leaning individuals, in order to jump start the peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA leaders.
While peace talks with the CPP started upon the assumption of Duterte s presidency, assassination activities , ambush and encounters between military troops and NPA have been ongoing since the start of the year, with 14 civilians killed in liquidation activities in Negros Island, which were claimed by the rebel group.
The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division operating in Negros Island Region, Western and Central Visayas will strictly observe the government ceasefire religiously.
But Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson, 3ID spokes man, said, “We will continue our presence in the communities to protect the civilians, government and private infrastructure to maintain peace and security.”
Tiongson added, “We will continue with our commitment to extend services to the people and development of our communities, especially in remote areas.”*GPB
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