MANILA - A top communist leader on Thursday dismissed as a ruse President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a holiday truce, citing his recent termination of formal peace negotiations over the rebels’ refusal to sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement.
The Netherlands-based Jose Maria Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), said Duterte was “cheating” when he announced the suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) without a similar instruction to the police.
“Yung butangero, nanaksak na, nang-insulto pa. Pagkatapos gagawa ng parang himas. Ceasefire na kalahati...nandadaya pa itong butangero,” he told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview.
(This toughie, he stabbed us and insulted us. Then he will try to appease us. This is like a half-baked ceasefire. It's like cheating.)
Last month, the president issued separate proclamations terminating formal peace talks and declaring the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terrorists.
Duterte was angered by continued attacks by the rebels on state forces despite negotiations.
“Right now, there are strong reasons why the CPP, up to now, has not given the order to the NPA to have the ceasefire,” Sison said.
“But it would not be surprising” if the CPP-NPA declared its own holiday truce, said Satur Ocampo, a former chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
“In the spirit of the season, and given the tradition over the past many years, even under different administrations, a mutual ceasefire observation is welcome,” he told ABS-CBN News.
Ocampo said Duterte’s ceasefire announcement after terminating peace talks indicated that he lacked a “fixed” policy, and that it “lies entirely in the changing moods of the president.”
Sison claimed Duterte was planning to establish a dictatorship similar to Ferdinand Marcos’ by “destroying the peace negotiations and using the CPP-NPA as the reason for having martial law.”