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Truce or dare?

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) should have rejoiced when President Duterte gave them a golden opportunity by declaring a unilateral ceasefire during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 25.

In spite of the ceasefire, tension arose between the government and the communist rebels anew when, two days later, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported that the CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), attacked members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Kapalong, Davao del Norte. One CAFGU man was killed and four others were wounded in the ambush.

Naturally, the President sought an explanation from the NPA. He even threatened to cancel the ceasefire if the CPP failed to respond to his demand for explanation on Thursday or Friday.

Duterte was lenient enough to wait for their explanation and for them to reciprocate the government’s ceasefire declaration until 5 p.m. of July 30.

When the CPP failed to respond to his demand two hours after the deadline, Duterte felt he had no choice but to cancel the ceasefire declaration.

And how did the communist leadership respond to the lifting? Founder Jose Maria Sison said the CPP, NPA and its political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF) cannot be dictated upon by the Philippine leader since they are not his servants. Neither could Duterte impose an ultimatum on the communists, he stressed.

Talk about heightened levels of arrogance and conceit, Sison and his boys would surely lead the pack. It seemed that these rebels don’t give a hoot. Neither could they be trusted after that ambush while the government-declared truce was in place.

The NPA later claimed that the attack was due to information it received that Army soldiers and CAFGU men would attack its guerrillas in the area.

Sison said that despite the ceasefire cancellation, formal peace talks would resume as scheduled in Oslo, Norway on August 20.

But with the CPP’s apparent disregard for the President’s position and authority, should the government still pursue the peace talks or simply treat the Reds as bandits that should be put behind bars for all the crimes they committed?

Many choose the latter.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column athttp://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/ (Robert B. Roque, Jr.)