Asia - Pacific

Philippines military enforces ceasefire with communists

President announced immediate ceasefire with Communist Party of Philippines, armed and political wings

26.07.2016
Philippines military enforces ceasefire with communists The military estimates that the number of NPA members has dropped from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s to less than 4,000.

By Roy Ramos

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines

The Philippines’ military has informed all troops of a unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels announced by President Rodrigo Duterte during his first state of the union address.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman, told GMA News on Tuesday, “after our beloved president mentioned the ceasefire declaration, messages were sent to all units down to the last, informing them of the president's instruction."

At a joint session of Congress on Monday afternoon, Duterte announced the "effective immediately" ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), along with its armed group and political wing, calling on them to respond accordingly.

Padilla expressed hope that the ceasefire declaration would become permanent and be reciprocated by the communist groups, which have been fighting the government for almost 50 years.

"The president's ceasefire declaration is the desire of all soldiers and Filipinos that the armed conflict with groups fighting the government will end and peace will reign across the country," he stressed.

"Hopefully President Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire declaration will stay permanently because it will open the door for ongoing conversations to have sustainable peace throughout the country."

He added that military will remain defensive, with soldiers instructed to only fight back if attacked by New People's Army (NPA) rebels.

While the National Democratic Front -- the CPP's political front -- has not declared a ceasefire, its chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said in a statement shortly after Duterte’s speech that they would issue a positive response "within the hour".

Since March 1969, the NPA has been waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies, which -- according to the military -- has claimed more than 3,000 lives over the past eight years.

Duterte has been making peace overtures to its political wing since he started to campaign for this year's presidential election.

His aides have already held preliminary talks with Sison and other senior communist leaders, during which they agreed to resume the peace negotiations next month.

The military estimates that the number of NPA members has dropped from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s to less than 4,000.

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