Reds threaten to end unilateral ceasefire unless political prisoners are freed

Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 29 2016 03:33 PM

Free the political prisoners by the third peace talks in January otherwise, the unilateral ceasefire earlier declared by the communist group will end.

This was the message of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to President Rodrigo Duterte during the radical left's anniversary celebration in Quezon province on Wednesday.

"Kung walang mangyayaring bilateral ceasefire agreement, walang mangyayaring pagpapalaya, malamang ay iaatras na rin natin ang unilateral ceasefire agreement na pinataw ng CPP-NPA," NDF peace consultant Ernesto Lorenzo said in his speech.

The rebels declared truce on August 21, amid the on-going peace negotiations.

Among the conditions being discussed is the release of around 400 political prisoners thru an amnesty, a promise Duterte made to rebels last May.

In a message, NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison has called out the President for not delivering his promises.

He even said the current peace talks seem to be no different from those held under previous administrations.

"Halatado na gusto lamang ng kaaway ang kapitulasyon at pasipikasyon ng mga pwersa at masang rebolusyonaryo para paralisado sila sa usapan at pwede nang limutin ang reaksyunaryong estado ang pag-uusap tungkol sa adyenda ng mga batayang reporma ng lipunan, ekonomiya at pulitika sa usapang pangkapayapaan," Sison said.

The CPP-NPA-NDF said a bilateral ceasefire agreement will only take effect once political prisoners have been granted amnesty and are released.

Lorenzo clarified, this is not a condition from their side. Rather, the possible retraction of the unilateral ceasefire is just a result of a series of broken arrangements and unfulfilled promises.

"Sa kanya (Duterte) nagmula yung amnesty na 'Para wala na kayong problema, wala na kayong mga kaso. Mas mabilis yun'," Lorenzo said. "Magpakita naman ng kaseryosohan, magpakita naman ng kahandahang loob sa pamamagitan ng pagrelease ng political prisoners."

Around 400 political detainees are awaiting amnesty. But, in the meantime, the CPP-NPA-NDF is settling for the immediate release of 136 elderly, women, and sick prisoners.

If the unilateral ceasefire from the rebels' side ends, there is no one to blame but President Duterte, added Lorenzo.

"Kaya namang magka-usapang pangkapayapaan ng may putukan," Ka Diego reiterated.

They also pointed out, the release of political prisoners is a "matter of justice" the government is obliged to give.

'STOP OPLAN BAYANIHAN'

The communist group has also called for the stoppage of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Oplan Bayanihan. 

They accused the military of "harassing" NPA stronghold communities amid a unilateral ceasefire by both ends.

"Oplan Bayanihan ang dahilan ng matinding militarisasyon sa mga kanayunan sa kabila ng unilateral ceasefire na hindi nila seryosong pinatupad," Lorenzo said.

Lorenzo said they will wait until the third peace talks, to be held in Rome, Italy on January 19-24. 

Aside from the 84-page Comprehensive Agreement on Social Economic Reforms, the NDFP is also expected to discuss other issues with the government, including the ongoing war on drugs.