President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Friday, February 3, that he has lifted the government’s unilateral ceasefire with Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“Kagabi I decided, I called General [Eduardo] Año and said, ni-lift ko ‘yung ceasefire tonight. Wala ng ceasefire,” President Duterte said in his speech during his visit to M’Lang, Cotabato, for the launching of the M’lang Solar Powered Irrigation System (MSPSIS).
The communist groups have demanded the release of 400 political prisoners, which the President denied.
Duterte also said that he had lost a number of soldiers in the hands of the rebel groups despite the truce.
“I really tried but the demands are just too huge that it is impossible to meet or even work out a compromise,” he said.
“So I really would like to express my sadness. We cannot have a peaceful generation. There will always be fight,” he added.
The President stressed that his decision to release the leaders of communist groups and to resume peace talks with them showed his sincerity and eagerness to end communist insurgency in the country.
However, he said that releasing 400 political prisoners could not be possible since the decision would not only come from him.
“Unreasonable demands…I would have wanted very much, talagang gusto ko — it’s about 50 years in the making. But let it not be said that I did not try. So I guess that peace with the communists cannot be realized during our generation. Maybe years from now,” he said.
“Therefore I’m asking the soldiers, ‘Go back to your camps clean your rifles and be ready to fight.’ I am sorry but that is how it is,” the President said.
From M’Lang, the President proceeded to Kidapawan City to visit the wake of PO2 Jerome Ruefa who was killed from a pursuit operation in M’lang, Cotabato.
He also visited the wounded police personnel from the same pursuit operation: PO1 Angelito Edep and PO2 Joselex Avena who are confined at Kidapawan Medical Specialists Hospital.
He then went back to Davao City to visit the wake of 2Lt. Miguel Victor Alejo at St. Peter Chapel & Funeral Homes in Panacan.
The 26-year-old junior officer from the 67th Army Infantry Batallion was killed in an encounter with members of NPA last Wednesday in Barangay Lambog, Manay, Davao Oriental.
Alejo was with a team composed of police and army soldiers dispatched to respond to reports regarding NPA rebels extorting money in Barangay Rizal.
The troops were waylaid as they were heading for the village, leading to the death of Alejo and the wounding of army Private Jocno Sumatin.###PND