MANILA, July 31 (Xinhua) -- The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Sunday said it is open to declaring a unilateral truce with the administration of President Duterte who lifted a government ceasefire with the communists on Saturday.
In a statement, the CPP Central Committee said it was willing to declare the ceasefire in support of the peace negations with the government which is due to resume in Oslo, Norte for Aug. 20 to 27.
The CPP said it supports the resumption of the peace talks with the government "as a means of discussing the roots of the armed conflict." Also, it expects the Duterte government to make good its promise to release all their peace consultants and all political prisoners.
"To further support peace negotiations, the CPP is willing to issue a unilateral ceasefire declaration separately but simultaneously with the Duterte government on Aug. 20. The time-frame can be determined through negotiations,"it said.
It said the two sides"can thereafter exchange these declarations in order to discuss points for cooperation and coordination and determine ways of preventing armed skirmishes, misunderstandings and miscommunications during the course of the peace talks."
It said it welcomed the government ceasefire when it was declared by Duterte on July 25."It is too bad that he has withdrawn such an order,"said the CPP, referring to Duterte's lifting of the truce for the failure of the communists to reciprocate it last Saturday.
"We trust, however, that this (lifting) will not affect preparations for formal resumption of peace negotiations scheduled for Aug. 20-27 in Oslo, Norway, nor will it preclude the GRP president from reissuing such a declaration simultaneously with a similar unilateral declaration by the CPP and NPA (New People's Army) on Aug. 20,"the CPP said.
The CPP said the Central Committee had been drafting its interim ceasefire declaration since July 25 to promote the peace negotiations. The statement said it was supposed to announce its reciprocal ceasefire declaration around 8 p.m. but Duterte announced the lifting of the government truce about an hour earlier.
Duterte demanded the communists to reciprocate the government truce on Saturday afternoon. Days earlier, he lashed at the communist movement for ambushing militiamen, who were returning to their base in compliance with the government truce last Wednesday in Davao del Norte. One of the militiamen died and four others were injured.
"It was quite capricious for the GRP(Government of the Republic of the Philippines) president to have imposed such ultimatums of a few hours or several days for the CPP to act in accordance with his whims. It was quite disconcerting that the GRP president would impose such an inflexible ultimatum on the CPP. Despite his anti-crime bravado, it would seem he has shown the drug lords and protectors of criminal syndicates more flexibility and accommodation,"the CPP said.
"It is advisable for the GRP president to exercise a little more prudence and display more measured temperament as a way of appreciating the situation from a broader historical perspective in order to avoid such impulsive acts as imposing ultimatums by the hour on a conflict that has spanned nearly fifty years,"it also said.
The CPP added that there was actually"zero compliance"to the ceasefire on the part of the AFP.
"Its (AFP) public expression of support for the ceasefire declaration was not reflected on the ground. Not a single AFP command ordered its troops withdrawn back to their barracks,"the CPP said.
Citing a report from the NPA unit involved in the Davao del Norte ambush, the CPP said NPA fighters were" provoked to carry out the ambush as part of its active defense in the face of an imminent armed encounter with the operating armed troops and auxiliary forces of the 72nd IB (infantry battalion) of the AFP."
The NPA, the armed front of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front, has been waging war against the government for over four decades.
The communist rebellion has killed 30,000 people since 1960s, and the NPA is believed to have fewer than 4,000 men today, down from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s, according to the military.