Government to cease offensives against NPA: Bello

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 18 2017 07:37 PM

Government soldiers on military vehicles patrol after a continued assault on fighters from the Maute group who have taken over large parts of Marawi city, southern Philippines May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

MANILA -- Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Silvestre Bello III on Sunday said government forces will cease its offensive operations against the New People's Army (NPA).

In a statement, Bello said the government will reciprocate the National Democratic Front if the Philippines (NDFP) declaration to refrain from undertaking offensive operations in Mindanao.

“The Philippine government hereby correspondingly reciprocates with the same declaration of not undertaking offensive operations against the New People's Army to pave way for the eventual signing of a mutually agreed bilateral ceasefire agreement and agreements on social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces towards a just and lasting peace,” Bello said in a statement.

Bello added that the government “continues to adhere to mutually acceptable principles enunciated in The Hague Joint Declaration,” and all previously signed agreements, "including specifically, but not limited to, the JASIG" (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees).

The JASIG covers all 14 peace process consultants of the NDFP who joined the peace negotiations in the Netherlands.

The NDFP made the statement on Saturday to enable the government troops to focus on the Marawi siege.

"For all forces to be able to concentrate against Maute, Abu Sayyaf and AKP groups, the NDFP has recommended to the CPP to order all other NPA units in Mindanao to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP), provided that the GRP order the AFP and PNP likewise to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the NPA and people’s militia. The rights and interests of the masses and communities must be respected and promoted," the statement said.

The NDFP also reiterated its support to the government by condemning terrorist acts perpetuated by terror groups.

"As a matter of fundamental principle and constant policy, we condemn and combat terrorism. By terrorism, we mean actions that intimidate, terrorize, harm and murder civilians solely or mainly and in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law."

Last May 31, the President warned the communist leaders not to come home to the Philippines or they will face arrest.

Duterte issued the warning in the wake of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ criticism against his decision to place the entire Mindanao under martial law following the Marawi siege.