Philippine communist rebels end ceasefire, accuses Duterte’s government of human rights abuses

The move comes after a third round of peace talks aimed at ending decades of bloodshed wrapped up in Italy last week with no deal on a permanent truce

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2017, 10:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2017, 10:56pm

Philippine Maoist rebels said on Wednesday they would end a five-month ceasefire, accusing President Rodrigo Duterte’s government of treachery and human rights abuses.

The move comes after a third round of peace talks aimed at ending decades of bloodshed wrapped up in Italy last week with no deal on a permanent cessation of fighting.

The Communist Party of the Philippines said it would continue to support the peace negotiations, but ordered its 4,000 fighters to resume “military campaigns and tactical offensives” against government forces from February 11.

“The [government] has treacherously taken advantage of the [rebels’] unilateral declaration of ceasefire to encroach on the territory of the people’s democratic movement,” the rebels said in a statement.

Soldiers and police had used the truce as a licence to “engage in hostile actions” including “human rights violations” in rebel-influenced rural villages.

Past experience had showed “it is possible to negotiate while fighting until the substantive agreements are forged to address the roots of the armed conflict”.

The Duterte government was “dismayed” by the announcement, Jesus Dureza, the presidential adviser to the peace talks, said in a statement.

But Dureza said he would urge Duterte to abide by the government’s own ceasefire.

A presidential spokesman said the peace talks, which are due to resume in Oslo on April 2, would go ahead.

The communists have been waging an insurgency since 1968 that the military says has claimed 30,000 lives, to overthrow a capitalist system that has created one of Asia’s biggest rich-poor divides.

Duterte, a self-styled socialist who was swept to power in elections last year, restarted peace talks that had been on and off for 30 years.

The two sides separately declared ceasefires as negotiators began talks in Norway in August, and the informal arrangement largely held as they continued discussions on the outskirts of Rome last week.

But the rebels rejected government overtures to sign a formal ceasefire and peace settlement this year, warning such a pact was unlikely to be achieved before 2019.

The rebels also criticised Duterte’s failure to grant amnesty and free nearly 400 jailed guerrillas. The government released 18 jailed rebel leaders at the start of the talks last year.