On 25 July, the Philippines newly elected President, Rodrigo Duterte, called for an unilateral ceasefire between government forces and communist rebels, effective immiediately. The ceasefire was declared ahead of peace talks in Oslo from 20 to 27 August this year.
The President proclaimed the ceasefire in his first ‘State Of the Nation Address’ before a joint Congress.
“Let me say this, all of us want peace; not the peace of the dead, but the peace of the living,” Duterte said in his speech.
In his speech, Duterte proclaimed that he hopes to achieve a “permanent and lasting peace” with in his term of presidency that ends in 2022.
“Let me make this appeal to you: If we cannot, as yet, love one another, then in God’s name, let us not hate each other too much,” he said.
The 48 years-old struggle is waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Party and the armed New People’s Army against Philippine security forces.
Duterte’s predecessor, former President Roberto Aquino, initiated peacetalks in 2010, but stopped the process in 2013 and accused the rebels of being insincere about reaching a peaceful settlement. However, these accusations are disputed by rebel leaders, who claim that it was Aquino that disrupted the peace talks.
However, Duterte have aspired new hopes for a durable peace. He have among other things promised to release rebel prisoners and offered seats to left-wing politicians in his government.
“To the CPP/NPA/NDF, let us end these decades of ambuscades and skirmishes. We are going nowhere. And it is getting bloodier by the day,” Duterte said in his speech.
The disputing parties have met on numerous occasions in the Norwegian capitol, most recently in June this year, but without reaching a lasting result. Norway has been involved in the peace process as the third party facilitator since 2001.
Aljazeera (July 26, 2016)