14 January 2020

 

Predictions

  • Government-Communist talks will likely resume overseas as end-of-year ceasefire reflects President’s desire to make progress
  • Duterte will increase efforts to secure deal given limited success in delivering on other key election promises
  • Communists’ refusal to offer concessions will likely limit progress in short term but talks likely to restart later this year

 

Analysis

A military spokesperson said on 7 January that the army would resume operations against Communist rebels the next day, when a truce covering Christmas and New Year expired. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) had announced a unilateral ceasefire from 23 December until 7 January, which the Government reciprocated. However, the army cited violations by the New People’s Army (NPA) – the CPP’s armed wing – as the reason for resuming operations, saying the NPA attacked security forces in Camarines Norte and Iloilo provinces on the first day of the truce.

The Communist insurgency began in 1969, but despite more than 40 rounds of talks aiming to bring it to an end, no agreement has been reached. As part of these diplomatic efforts, the Government and NPA traditionally announce unilateral ceasefires over the Christmas and New Year period regardless of the state of negotiations, but in 2018 the Government unusually refused to do so, reflecting President Duterte’s frustration with his failure to secure a peace deal. He followed this by announcing

the “permanent termination” of negotiations in March 2019. However, we assessed that this would chiefly aim to pressure the CPP-NPA to offer concessions in future talks, as Duterte sees brokering a resolution as a key part of his political legacy (see our 11 April 2019 Report).

The Government’s decision to offer a ceasefire this year therefore

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