Communist rebels declare 7-day unilateral ceasefire

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — In light of formal peace talks between the Philippine Government and communist rebels next week, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Operational Command of the New People's Army (NPA) issued on Friday a unilateral declaration of a seven-day ceasefire.

According to a statement from the CPP's Information Bureau, the ceasefire will take effect starting 12:01 a.m., August 21 and will last until 11:59 p.m., August 27.

Formal talks between the negotiating panels of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Philippine government are scheduled for August 22-26 and will be held in Oslo, Norway.

The NDFP is the political arm of the CPP, which represents the rebels in the talks.

"This ceasefire declaration is encouraged by the GRP’s (Government of the Republic of the Philippines') facilitation of the release of nearly all NDFP consultants who are set to participate in peace negotiations in the course of the next several months," said the CPP and NPA in the statement.

Earlier the same day, NDFP consultants Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Tiamzon were released on bail from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center at Camp Crame before noon.

Read: Tiamzon couple out on bail to attend peace talks in Norway

They will be part of the more than 20 NDF consultants who will be joining the reopening of the formal peace talks five years since these were stalled.

On July 30, Duterte withdrew the government's unilateral ceasefire he declared during his First State of the Nation Address after NPA soldiers ambushed troops of the government's Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) on July 27 in Davao del Norte. The President has not brought back the government's unilateral ceasefire since then.

Related: Duterte lifts ceasefire with communist rebels

"We hope that this ceasefire declaration will be reciprocated by the GRP as a show of all-out determination to move forward with peace negotiations," said the CPP. It clarified, however, that the ceasefire declaration will take effect even without the government's reciprocation.

"To further bolster peace negotiations, the CPP and NPA are also open to discuss the possibility of a longer ceasefire upon completion of the release of all political prisoners," said the CPP.

President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his willingness to reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire declaration, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told CNN Philippines on Saturday.

Andanar said in a separate statement the same day that the government is "optimistic" that the mutual efforts of both sides would lead to "fruitful" negotiations leading to the end of one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.

CNN Philippines' David Santos contributed to this report.