CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Dec. 7, 2010â€”The Communist Party of the Philippinesâ€™ (CPP) central committee and military commission and the national executive committee of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) declared Tuesday a ceasefire in the run-up to the worldwide celebration of Christmas.
In reaction, bishops all over Mindanao issued statements praising the declaration.
The CPPâ€™s ceasefire declaration will take effect on Dec. 16 up to January 3, 2011.
But in a statement, the CPP said that its ceasefire declaration is â€œeffective upon the reciprocal and concurrent ceasefire order from the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to is military, police and paramilitary forces.â€
While the ceasefire is in effect, all commands and units of the New Peopleâ€™s Army (NPA), the armed component of the CPP, and the peopleâ€™s militia shall be â€œin a defensive mode at both the strategic and tactical levels but shall remain vigilant against any encroachment on the territory of the peopleâ€™s democratic government.â€
â€œActive self-defense shall be undertaken only in the face of clear and imminent danger,â€ it added.
The CPP said that the ceasefire order â€œis issued on humanitarian grounds and as an act of good will in order to allow the commands, units and personnel of the contending armies of the GRP and the NDFP to observe the traditional holidays and enjoy the spirit of the yuletide season and the New Year.â€
â€œWe hope that our act of good will and the mutual ceasefire between the GRP and the NDFP will improve the atmosphere for peace negotiations and inspire the release of political prisoners, the full implementation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, the end of human rights violations in consonance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the holding of preliminary talks between representatives of the GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels in Oslo in January 2011 and the resumption of formal talks between the aforesaid Panels in Oslo in February 2011,â€ the CPP-NDFP statement said.
Reacting to the declaration, 66-year-old Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak of the military ordinariate welcomed this development.
He said in a statement that he is thankful to God because â€œboth sides will have time to be with their families and enjoy the Christmas holiday.â€
â€œI hope and pray they continue to dialogue and keep on communicating no matter what happens,â€ because â€œlistening with empathy and speaking with honesty and mutually recognizing theirs and the peopleâ€™s needs based on values are steps to peace.â€
Tumulak said that openness of heart and honesty and real concern for the community â€œis a way to peace, lasting peace.â€
The government had declared a Christmas ceasefire on Dec. 3.
The government ceasefire will serve as a prelude to the resumption of peace talks between the two parties in February 2011.
Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J. of Cagayan de Oro said the ceasefire declarations of both the government and CPP-NDFP are very welcome developments, which he said will be a stepping stone for the renewal of the peace negotiations towards the forging of a lasting peace. (Bong D. Fabe)