Philippines: Duterte declares truce with communists
President announces immediate ceasefire with Communist Party of Philippines, armed and political wings
President Rodrigo Duterte has utilized his first state of the union address to call for a unilateral ceasefire with a communist rebel group which has been fighting the government for almost 50 years.
At a joint session of Congress Monday afternoon, Duterte announced the "effective immediately" ceasefire with the Communist party of the Philippines (CPP), along with its armed group and political wing, calling on them to respond accordingly.
"To stop violence on the ground [and] restore peace, I am now announcing a unilateral ceasefire," Duterte told lawmakers, vowing to work for a "permanent and lasting peace" before he ends his term in 2022.
"That is my goal, that is my dream," he added.
Minutes later, the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF) -- the CPP’s political wing -- Jose Maria Sison said in a statement that they would issue a positive response "within the hour".
Since March 1969, the CPP's armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), has been waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies, which -- according to the military -- has claimed more than 3,000 lives over the past eight years.
Duterte has been making peace overtures to its political wing since he started to campaign for this year's presidential election.
His aides have already held preliminary talks with Sison and other senior communist leaders, during which they agreed to resume the peace negotiations next month.
The military estimates that the number of NPA members has dropped from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s to less than 4,000.