Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Philippine president Duterte ends ceasefire with Maoist rebels

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that he now considers the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPC) , New People's Army (NPA), and National Democratic Front (NDF) as terrorist groups rather than rebels.

The CPC , a Maoist communist party, was formed almost a half century ago in 1968. It is banned and its leader Jose Sison lives in exile in the Netherlands. It has its own website on which it announced the cessation of its unilateral ceasefire:
The August 28, 2016 unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire issued by the Central Committee of the CPP (CPP-CC) and the National Operations Command of the New People’s Army (NPA-NOC) is hereby terminated. The Negotiating Panel of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) shall be given notice today of this termination by the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front (NDFP).With this declaration and notice, the August 28 unilateral ceasefire shall effectively expire on 11:59 p.m. of February 10.
The New People's Army(NPA) is the armed wing of the CPP and has been carrying out an armed struggle against the government for going on half a century now. It controls territory in some rural areas mostly in the main northern island of Luzon but also a few areas in the large southern island of Mindanao. The CPP also has a number of legal political front organizations with the NDF being their umbrella organization. On their website, the group claimed to be waiting for formal notice from the government of termination of peace negotiations. The group noted that all 17 NDFP consultants who had been released from jail were back in the Philippines and not in hiding as apparently some reports said.
Last summer there had been meetings between the government and rebels sponsored by Norway that had been a major breakthrough with both sides declaring a ceasefire. Al Jazeera reported:The Philippine government and Maoist rebels have signed an indefinite ceasefire deal to facilitate peace talks aimed at ending one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies. "This is a historic and unprecedented event ... [but] there is still a lot of work to be done ahead," President Rodrigo Duterte's peace adviser Jesus Dureza said at Friday's signing ceremony in Norway, which is mediating the talks.
Duterte had shown some sympathy to the rebel cause and had made it a priority to negotiate a peace deal with them that would stop the long costly struggle with the group. In turn, the Maoists threw their support behind Duterte's drug war: "The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said in a statement on Saturday that it had authorized its in-house militia, the New People's Army (NPA), to "disarm and arrest" drug lords, local news site GMA News reports."
Now this has cooperation is all ended and it is back to constant low level warfare it would seem. After he announced he was suspending peace talks. Duterte said: "From now on I will consider the CPP-NPA-NDF a terrorist group." He told the negotiators he had released to attend peace talks to return home and go back to prison. They are apparently already back in the Philippines but it appears they are not back in prison as yet. They are out on bail and feel they should not be arrested at least until the term of the bail runs out. Duterte also announced the end of the government's unilateral ceasefire.
The breakdown in the talks is the result of a number of clashes in recent weeks. The leadership of the rebels is not always able to control the actions of every local commander. Government commanders as well have varying attitudes to the struggle some no doubt not favoring a ceasefire. Recently three soldiers were killed in an ambush near Cagayan de Oro on the southern island of Mindanao. President Duterte was visiting the area to attend their funeral. Duterte awarded the three soldiers medals and provided financial support for their families. Duterte also said that the Geneva Convention did not apply to the NPA since they are criminals. Wikipedia reports that from the inception of the rebellion in 1969 until 2008 there were more than 43,000 insurgency related deaths.

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