By Genalyn Kabiling
As the nation fights the coronavirus outbreak, Malacañang has called on the communist rebel group to show “genuine sincerity” in the truce with the government by laying down their arms and halting deployment of forces.
The latest Palace appeal was made after welcoming communist rebel leader Jose Maria Sison’s recommendation to declare a unilateral ceasefire with the government in light of the public health emergency.
“The recommendation of Mr. Jose Ma. Sison, founding chairperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), to issue a declaration of a ceasefire addressed to the New People’s Army (NPA) purportedly in response to the call of the United Nations Secretary General for a global armistice, is a positive development,” Panelo said in a statement.
“As Mr. Sison proposes concord to be realized during this global health crisis, it is also our hope that their group’s armed component on the ground would show genuine sincerity in laying down their arms and not use the occasion to mobilize their forces,” he said.
Panelo said the Palace looks forward to the rebels “mak[ing] good — and stay[ing] true to — their words.”
Sison has reportedly agreed to recommend that the rebels declare a unilateral truce with the government after the United Nations called for a global truce in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sison, founding chair of the CPP and chief political consultant of National Democratic Front of the Philippines, said tactical offensives must be refrained from to give more opportunity to fight the coronavirus pandemic and ensure public health.
The rebel leader was earlier reluctant to reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Duterte effective March 19 to April 15.
According to Panelo, the Palace welcomes the cooperation of the rebel force and other sectors especially amid efforts to address the coronavirus threat.
“At this crucial time, the Filipino people deserve and need a safe and peaceful environment where there is unimpeded movement of health workers, medical supplies, food and other needs and services, in view of the current state of calamity and public health emergency,” he said.
“We therefore welcome the cooperation of all, including those in the Left, to realize our goal of absolute peace during these times.”