By Justin Cohen, Staff Writer
Posted 2:45 AM EST, Sat., Feb. 25, 2017
The government of the Philippines has declared all out war on the New People’s Army (NPA), a group of communist rebels, ever since the ceasefire issued by the NPA on Aug. 28, 2016 ended on Feb. 1. The ceasefire ended following several fatal skirmishes between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The NPA is the Communist Party of the Philippines’ guerrilla unit. The CPP formed in 1969 with the end goal of overthrowing the government through prolonged guerrilla warfare. There have been numerous splits between the CPP and the NPA since their inception-splintering the group into many different factions since 1969. About 30,000 have been killed in the conflict between insurgents and the Philippines government since the insurgency started back in the 1960s.
“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,” NPA spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos said in a statement.
Since the announcement of the ceasefire, the NPA kidnapped two AFP soldiers and encouraged Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to negotiate their safe return. The operation that saw these soldiers kidnapped also led to the death of another AFP soldier. This operation was against the terms of the ceasefire that was enacted on Feb. 1, but not set to go into full effect until Feb. 10. The two kidnapped soldiers appeared in a video released by the NPA explaining how they were being treated fairly.
Dencio Madrigal of the NPA spoke in the video and called on the AFP to halt military operations in Sultan Kudarat, accusing the government of using the AFP’s civil-military operations and other humanitarian outreach programs as merely a disguise for the real purpose of locating the NPA and determining how to stop the communities that are supporting the rebels.
Most recently, the NPA, just days after the ceasefire ended, has announced that it is ready to negotiate the terms of a new ceasefire in a meeting set to be held in the Netherlands.
“However difficult, the revolutionary forces are willing to work with government negotiators to hammer out a bilateral ceasefire agreement that will be mutually acceptable and enforceable,” the NPA told the Philippine Star.
The NPA even agreed to release six “prisoners of war” they are holding on the insurance that Duterte will release all political prisoners 48 hours after the new peace agreement has been signed.
Secretary of National Defense of the Philippines Delfin Lorenzana said that although the ceasefire has ended, the Duterte administration is still open to peace talks should the NPA agree, he told the Philippine Star.
“The President is not yet closing the doors. ‘If there is compelling reason to go back to the peace process, then we will go back,’” Lorenzana said, quoting the President. “So the doors are not closed. This is not cast in stone.”