The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today threatened to cut short a ceasefire with the government after Manila failed to reciprocate an order issued by the rebel group to its fighters to extend the truce to January 15.
The CPP demanded that the Aquino government also order an extension of its earlier ceasefire declaration to reciprocate the one issued by the rebel group last week.
Government and rebel peace negotiators agreed during a meeting on December 18 to declare a temporary truce from December 20 to January 15 to create favorable conditions for the resumption of formal peace negotiations next month.
The CPP issued a ceasefire order on December 20.
“More than a week has passed and [the government] has yet to issue a reciprocal ceasefire order that would extend [President Benigno Aquino]’s earlier declaration covering the period from December 16 to January 2,” a rebel statement said.
The group said Aquino’s failure to promptly issue a unilateral ceasefire order in accordance with the agreement “raises serious questions about his government’s sincerity in pursuing peace negotiations.”
“If he does not issue a corresponding ceasefire declaration soon, the CPP… would have to consider the option of cutting short the duration of its unilateral ceasefire order,” the statement said.
Lt Col Eugenio Julio Osias, spokesperson of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division in Mindanao, said he has yet to receive directives from higher authorities on the extension of the suspension of military operations.
“We are ready to observe whatever the government’s directives. We will follow the rule of law,” Osias said.
The rebel group, meanwhile, accused the military of human rights violations “in outright disregard of its own yuletide ceasefire order.”
The group cited the arrest and alleged torture of five residents of Mulanay town in Quezon province by elements of the Army’s 74th Infantry Battalion on December 21.
“The victims are being falsely accused of being NPA members,” the CPP said.