A ceasefire could help  in drive  on COVID-19             

Published March 23, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

e-cartoon-mar-24-2020President  Duterte has declared a ceasefire with the country’s Communist rebels effective March 19 to April  15, 2020. This is about the duration of the lockdown or quarantine the President  declared  for Metro Manila  and the whole of Luzon  and the state of calamity he declared  for the entire country.

The government has been declaring  a unilateral  ceasefire  every Christmas season,  and  the New People’s Army (NPA),  Communist  Party of the Philippines (CPP), and  National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) have always reciprocated with their own unilateral ceasefire.  They cannot seem to agree on a common ceasefire.

The  current  situation in the Philippines – as in most of the rest of the world – calls for  the fullest attention to the health crisis caused by COVID-19.   The government  has closed its  offices, except for skeleton forces.  It  has  asked private business to suspend all operations.  It has closed all public transportation.

The goal is to stop the spread of the coronavirus  which  seeks  to  junp from person  to person through droplets in the breath of an infected person. By   minimizing  close contacts as in crowds, health authorities hope to  deprive the virus of a way to find  new victims.

There may  be no direct relationship between the virus  poblem and  the decades-long rebellion of the NPA-CPP-NDFP but  President  Duterte  probably wants the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to concentrate on  their  new  assignment of enforcing  the restrictions of the lockdown.

But  CPP Founding Chairman and NDF Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison said last Wednesday that  the Communist movement  is not reciprocating the government’s ceasefire, which  it  believes  to  be insincere.  The lockdown, which is now being  enforced  by policemen and soldiers,  is meant to suppress democratic rights, commit  human rights violations, and  is a mere psywar  trick, he said.

The  lockdown  will continue as scheduled up to  April 15 and could be extended if COVID-19 cases in the country continue to increase. Very likely,  there will be no reciprocal ceasefire from the NPA-CPP-NDFP. There is just too much distrust in the government.

Still, the  present COVID-19 health  situation –  now bordering on desperation in many countries  – is one that calls for concerted  efforts by  all possible  sectors  of the country. Lockdowns or quarantines  are being done all over the world.

The pandemic started in China which has succeeded in stopping it by locking down the entire Hubei  province, whose capital Wuhan  was where it all began. Some  states in the United States have now ordered  lockdowns.

The lockdown  in Luzon and in some  provinces  in the South  should  help to stop the spread of COVID-19. The government  believes  a ceasefire will help in this time of need. We hope  the NPA-CPP-NDFP will  see that its own  unilateral ceasefire will also be of help.