“Sana bilisan nila para makamit na ang ika-apat nga substantive agenda,” – Paul Paracha, parish priest, President Roxas
By MARILOU AGUIRRE-TUBURAN
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Ateneo de Davao University President Joel Tabora welcomed the extension of ceasefire between the New People’s Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines saying that “any action to cease violence for genuine negotiations for peace is wise.”
The Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) extended its ceasefire to January 15 following a recommendation from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Peace Panel.
The parish priest of President Roxas town in Cotabato Province, Paul Paracha, also welcomed the news, saying it will benefit “civilians who are most affected by the conflict.” He hoped and prayed that both panels will finally sit down and resume the long overdue peace negotiations.
“Sana bilisan nila para makamit na ang ika-apat nga substantive agenda,” he said.
The GPH and NDFP panels are set to resume the talks this month. There are three remaining agenda to be settled, namely, Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, Political and Constitutional Reforms and Disposition of Arms.
“Atong ginasuportahan ang mga previous accord, ilang mga nahiusahan ilabina sa substantive agenda especially economic issues amidst the calamities that plague the nation and the release of political prisoners,” said United Church Christ of the Philippines Bishop Felixberto Calang. “We are calling for principled means as we continue to support (the peace talks) to address the root cause of unpeace,” he added.
In a statement posted in its website, philippinerevolution.net, the CPP’s CC ordered all New People’s Army commands and units and the people’s militia that it’s extending the ceasefire until 11:59 PM of January 15, overriding its earlier order lifting the ceasefire until 11:59 PM of January 2.
“This declaration is being issued upon recommendation of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines after being belatedly informed of the formal order by the president of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) Benigno Aquino III extending the suspension of offensive military and police operations (Somo) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police,” the statement read.
The CPP lifted its unilateral ceasefire after the GPH disregarded its warning last December 27 and the letters from the NDFP, over the past two weeks, to comply with the “synchronized temporary ceasefire” as agreed last December 17 to 18 between representatives of the GPH and NDFP in a special meeting facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) at The Hague, Netherlands.
Hours after the CPP’s January 2 decision, the AFP announced the extension of its Somo.
As shown by the fascimile of Aquino’s order, the CPP said, the recommendation by the Secretary of National Defense was forwarded January 2 noon, two weeks after the agreement was forged.
The Royal Norwegian Government through Ambassador Ture Lundh, according to the NDFP, received the copy of the January 1 endorsement of DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to Aquino which was approved by the president the day after.
Luis Jalandoni, in a statement, said that despite the “very belated GPH decision” to extend the Somo, they have recommended to the CPP to “extend its ceasefire declaration” so that both parties” will be in sync.”
“The CPP hopes that the reextension of the ceasefire order will help push forward peace negotiations between the GPH and the NDFP,” the CPP said. It added, “The GPH, however, still has a lot of work to do in terms of compliance and rectification of violations of previous agreements, including the release of detained peace consultants in accordance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and the release of more than 400 political prisoners in compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.”
Meanwhile, the development, according to Bai Ali Indayla, second nominee of the Kabataan Partylist, “will pave the way for the safety and speedy carrying out of the relief and rehabilitation efforts of NGOs (non-government organization) and cause-oriented organizations.”
Kabataan Partylist organized the Tulong Kabataan volunteers for the Pablo victims in Mindanao.
The youth leader also called on the AFP to “respect the ceasefire” with reports of violations it committed in many areas of the region.
In a statement released January 5, Ka Simon Santiago, Political Director of NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, said the military’s 84th Infantry Battalion of the 10th Infantry Division “forced the evacuation and hamletting of civilians and conducted food blockade” in Tambobong village, Baguio District.
Santiago said the military has punished the local residents “for being with the NPAs during the CPP anniversary celebration last December 26.” He added, the 84th IB ordered the village captain and tribal leaders to evacuate some 125 families in sitio Paglaum, Kidali,Luyan, Likuyan, Sumani and Lamod. Sumifru workers, he said, were also forced to stop from going to work as the “military also checked the entry and exit of food supplies like rice.”
Santiago said that military troops arrived in the area in January 1 and January 3 “aboard two military trucks and APC.” (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com)