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Insurgents reinstate ceasefire directive

Move follows an apparent miscommunication over details of the truce

Gulf News

Manila: Philippine communists on Friday reinstated an all but scuttled temporary ceasefire declaration with the government following an apparent miscommunication over details of the truce.

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), in a statement, said it would proceed in enforcing the agreed upon December 20, 2012-January 15, 2013 bilateral ceasefire while at the same time blaming the government for the delayed affirmation of the truce.

Apparent miscommunication, or lack of it, had resulted in a belated truce confirmation that the CPP said, led it to announce earlier that it is cutting short its temporary ceasefire with the government by two weeks.

Earlier, the CPP, through its united-front building arm, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) said: “Without the corresponding GPH [Government of Philippines] declaration of ceasefire until January 15, 2013, the NDF Negotiating Panel can only recommend a ceasefire until January 2, 2013, the end date announced by the GPH in its declaration of suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO).”

But on Friday, the CPP said it has “re-extended” its ceasefire declaration to January 15.

“…This declaration is being issued upon recommendation of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) after being belatedly informed of the formal order by the President of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines Benigno Aquino extending the suspension of offensive military and police operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police,” the CPP said.

The CPP said the Aquino government should have promptly ordered the extension of its earlier suspension of offensive military and police operations.

“Over the past two weeks, the GPH representatives refused to answer several communications seeking compliance with the December 20 to January 15 synchronized temporary ceasefire,” the CPP said.

For its part, the presidential palace said that communication mix-up notwithstanding, the declaration by the CPP that it will be “re-extending” its ceasefire declaration is a welcome development.

The ceasefire was one of the few instances that both sides had jointly agreed to enforce a bilateral truce. The several-weeks long suspension of military and police operations is the longest to be enforced by both side for a long time.

The government for its part, said it welcomes this change of heart by the CPP from their earlier position.

“This gives our soldiers and members of the CPP-NDF-New Peoples Army (NPA) more time with their loved ones, which becomes difficult in times of conflict,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.

Peace negotiators from both sides have regarded the prospect of a longer, more enduring ceasefire with guarded optimism since fresh negotiations were re-started for a broad political-economic settlement to the 44-year-old insurgency conflict last year.

Currently the peace negotiations are on a gridlock over the issue of release of prisoner release. A number of NDF peace negotiators have been arrested by government forces over the past several years, but instead of being charged cases related to their political cause, they were slapped with criminal charges.