Duterte declares ceasefire with Reds amid COVID-19 pandemic

Published March 18, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Argyll Geducos
President Duterte has declared a unilateral ceasefire against the Communist Party of the Philippines-the New People’s Army-the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) so that government forces can focus on helping deal with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a statement Wednesday evening, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the unilateral ceasefire will be effective from March 19 to April 15.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers a speech during a meeting with local chief executives at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on February 10, 2020. (ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
According to Panelo, Duterte has directed the departments of National Defense (DND) and the Interior and Local Government (DILG), together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), to cease and desist from carrying out offensive military and police operations during the ceasefire period.
“Both of these departments shall issue the corresponding orders to implement the declaration of the unilateral ceasefire, including the Suspension of Offensive Military and Police Operations (SOMO),” he said.
The Palace official said Duterte was hoping the ceasefire would enable the smooth sailing of Luzon’s enhanced community quarantine.
“Through this ceasefire, the Philippine Government aspires that the swift provision of public health assistance goes unimpeded with the movement of health workers and medical supplies to communities, as well as of people in need of immediate medical attention, remains unhampered,” Panelo said.

On Monday, President Duterte asked the CPP-NPA-NDF to practice “social distancing” with the government as the country deals with the threat of COVID-19.

“Kayo ba NPA nagmamahal kayo sa gobyerno? Social distancing tayo. Ceasefire muna tayo. Ako na ang humihingi (Do you guys from the NPA love the government? Let’s practice social distancing for now. Let’s have a ceasefire. I’m asking you now),” he said. “Kindly cooperate. Tumulong muna kayo. Magbayanihan kayo (Help us for now. Let’s help each other).”
According to the President, he will be sure to repay the rebels if they would take part in the fight against the disease.
“If you want to be at all times in talking terms, kindly cooperate. Mas mabuti pa tumulong muna kayo (It would be better if you help us for now). I will repay you with a good heart in the coming days,” Duterte said.