Dureza says no ceasefire with Reds yet, as clashes continue

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 13 2017 08:54 PM

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza said the unilateral ceasefire between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has yet to take effect, following the revival of formal peace negotiations between the two groups.

In a statement, Dureza said he has been receiving reports of attacks allegedly perpetrated by New People's Army (NPA) rebels against government troops.

"The restoration of unilateral ceasefire that has been announced is not yet effective as of today as there is still a need to allow the government and the communist leaders to inform their respective ground forces accordingly," he said, adding that both sides have yet to talk to their respective ground forces before agreeing on a date to restart the ceasefire.

Dureza added that there is an urgent need to restart the ceasefire so as to prevent more attacks.

"I have informally raised across the negotiating table the matter of some possible eruption of incidents prior to the effectivity date hence the urgency of an early effectivity announcement considering my previous experience of similar situations in my earlier ceasefire negotiations with other groups ( e.g. Bangsamoro ) with some factions creating disturbances just to show defiance or merely as an attempt of projection of eminence by some of their elements," he said.

Dureza, likewise, called for public acceptance of the peace negotiations to ensure the success of the government's peace efforts.

"Indeed, such incidents affect the over-all sentiments of peace- loving citizens who may even raise issues of good faith and may lead to questions as to whether or not rebel groups we are engaging in the peace tables are sincere or have control over their ground forces. Public acceptance (or the lack of it) on the on-going peace process is critical, given the indispensable need of over-all stakeholders' support to ensure success of our peace efforts," he explained.

Four police officers died in an ambush by suspected members of NPA in Bansalan, Davao del Sur last Wednesday, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to urge the military and the police to use all their assets in the war against communist rebels.

"Wala pang peace talks. It’s totally absent. So, in the meantime, I will also ask the Armed Forces to go ahead and wage a war against them. I’ll allow police and military to use all available assets," Duterte told reporters in Davao del Sur a day after the ambush.

The ambush occurred a day after Duterte revealed "backchannel" talks with Reds.