VIGAN CITY — Communist Party of the Philippines Founding Chairperson Jose Maria Sison said the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) were “by and large” compliant with their reciprocal ceasefire declaration.

“By and large, the two parties have complied with the ceasefire agreement and allowed it to serve as goodwill and confidence-building measure for enhancing the environment for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP negotiations,” he said.

He made the pronouncement on Sunday, January 5, despite allegations of ceasefire violations from both sides.

The Yuletide truce, which was supposed to start on December 23, 2019, upon the issuance of formal suspension of military and police offensive operations by GRP, is set to end on January 7, 2020. The Duterte government’s negotiating panel provided copies of the orders to the NDFP only on December 26. According to him, no clash between government troops and the New People’s Army (NPA) transpired since the GRP provided copies of the Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension of Offensive Police Operations (SOPO) to the NDFP. He added that GRP and NDFP could deliberate the alleged breaches made by both forces during the peace negotiations.

The reciprocal ceasefire is part of the goodwill and confidence-building measures for the possible resumption of peace negotiations.

Sison, who also serves as the Chief Political Consultant of the NDFP, pointed out that GRP “ought to release on humanitarian grounds sickly and elderly political prisoners.” In particular, he urged the government to set free “the eleven NDFP consultants arrested detained in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).”

“The release of the aforementioned political prisoners on humanitarian grounds will ensure the success of the formal meeting to resume the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations within January,” he said.

He explained that for the formal peace talks to resume, the parties should reaffirm all previous joint agreements since The Hague Joint Declarations in 1992. According to him, confirming the commitment of both parties to the earlier pacts supersedes the presidential issuances that terminated the negotiations. He said that the reaffirmation would also set the agenda for discussion and approval of the Interim Peace Agreement (IPA).

President Duterte terminated the talks on November 23, 2017, by issuing Proclamation No. 360. On December 5, the same year, he issued Proclamation No. 374, designating the CPP and the NPA as terrorist organizations. The revolutionary forces considered the directives as efforts to totally shut down the peace dialogue but also express that they remain open for possible talks.

In June 2018, the NDFP and GRP jointly wrote the IPA intending to resume the negotiations after President Duterte terminated the talks. They also created the guidelines and procedures for the implementation of the documents. Contained in the IPA are the granting of general amnesty, approval of the articles of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), and the coordinated unilateral ceasefire.

However, the GRP canceled the scheduled opening of the talks citing the need to review all agreements signed by the NDFP with previous administrations. In December 2018, Duterte issued Executive Order No. 70, creating the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and institutionalization of the “whole of nation approach.” The president and his defense officials also refocused efforts in localizing peace negotiations, which the NPA commands across the country rejected. # nordis.net

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