MANILA - Communist leader Jose Ma. Sison on Saturday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s as “volatile” for revoking a government ceasefire before leftist rebels could reciprocate the truce.
Duterte announced the lifting of the ceasefire at 7 p.m., two hours after his deadline for the New People’s Army (NPA) expired. Sison said rebel fighters were planning to declare a ceasefire by 8 p.m., but it was unclear whether this would push through.
“Masyado namang volatile ang Presidente na bagong halal,” an incensed Sison told ANC by phone from the Utrecht, where he is on self-exile.
“Hindi pwedeng nag-uultimatum. Ang pinag-uusapan dito oras lang, araw. Kung lumamapas ng buwan, pwedeng may uminit ang ulo,” said the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Duterte’s decision, Sison said, showed a “lack of prudence in something as sensitive and delicate as peace negotiations between two armed fighting sides.”
“Mahirap makipagkasundo sa ganyang mga bigla-biglaan,” he said.
Despite recent developments, Sison said the resumption of formal peace talks in Oslo, Norway would push through as scheduled on August 20.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza issued a similar statement to ABS-CBN News. “Let's wait and see. But so far, as of the moment, there is no supervening factor that will affect the upcoming talks in Oslo on August 20.”
Duterte had sought to bring the rebels back to the negotiating table in an effort to end one of the world’s longest-running Maoist insurgencies that has claimed 30,000 lives since the 1960s.
Duterte issued the ultimatum after a government militia man was killed and four others were wounded in what the military said was an ambush by the NPA in the southern province of Compostela Valley last Wednesday. The rebels owned up to the attack, but said they were thwarting an Army offensive.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), is believed to have fewer than 4,000 gunmen at present, down from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s, according to the military.
But it retains support among the poor in rural areas, and its forces regularly kill police or troops while extorting money from local businesses and politicians. -- with reports from Agence France-Presse