By Noreen Jazul
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on Thursday said there is “no clear basis” for them to reciprocate President Duterte’s declaration of a ceasefire.
In a statement, NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria “Joma” Sison called the President’s declaration as “premature.”
“There is communication going on between the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels. But there is yet no agreement for reciprocal unilateral ceasefires in connection with certain considerations, requirements, and modalities,” Sison said.
“There has to be catch-up on these matters, if still possible. The ceasefire declaration by the GRP or the Duterte regime is premature, if not insincere, and false,” he added.
Sison also questioned whether the reciprocal unilateral ceasefire was based on “national unity” against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The NDFP is not assured and satisfied that the reciprocal unilateral ceasefires are based on national unity against COVID-19, the appropriate solution of the pandemic as a medical problem and protection of the most vulnerable sectors of the population, including workers, health workers, those with any serious ailments and the political prisoners,” Sison said.
On March 18, President Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-the New People’s Army-the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) so that government forces could focus on giving assistance to health workers, and local communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ceasefire will begin on March 19 and end on April 15.
Sison said unless the government will give them “sufficient assurances,” the NDFP will deem the ceasefire declaration as insincere and “not intended to invite reciprocation by the NDFP but is meant to be a mere psywar trick. “
The NDFP chief consultant said the President’s “lack of sincerity” in seeking a ceasefire was manifested by the “militarist lockdown” ofthe whole Luzon, and the continuous ”red-tagging, abducting, and murdering” of social activists in urban areas by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Sison, however, expressed hope that the negotiating panels of the government and the NDFP “come to clear terms on certain considerations, requirements, and modalities for the benefit of the people.”
“Promises of Duterte, such as doing a good turn from a good heart, can be believed only as they are realized promptly and according to a definite schedule,” Sison said.