Communists declare truce

    The Bagong Hukbong Bayan (New People's Army) in the North. (Photo from the NDF)

    THE Communist Party of the Philippines has declared a truce with government in response to the call of the United Nations for a global ceasefire between parties to allow response against the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In a statement, the CPP Central Committee said it has ordered all units of its armed wing, the New People’s Army, and its militias to observe the nationwide ceasefire from March 26 to April 15.

    Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres, chief of the AFP Civil Relations service and acting AFP spokesman, said the military welcomes the ceasefire declaration of the CPP but said the Armed Forces will remain vigilant for rebel attacks.

    President Duterte last week declared a truce, from March 19 to April 15, as government troops shifted focus to implementing a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus.

    The communists have declined to reciprocate the government’s gesture, saying they do not want to be perceived as condoning the supposed inefficiency of the Duterte administration in responding to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) threat.

    On Tuesday, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres appealed for a global ceasefire and “help create corridors for life-saving aid.” Guterres’ appeal prompted CP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison to recommend the declaration of a truce.

    The CPP said “the broad masses of the people themselves need to refrain from launching tactical offensives to gain more time and opportunity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and to look after the health and overall welfare of the people in both urban and rural areas.”

    “The purpose of this unilateral ceasefire is to ensure and facilitate necessary, unhampered and immediate medical, health and economic assistance, support and movement of the people brought about by the exigencies of the current COVID-19 worldwide pandemic that has affected a growing number of Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike,” the CPP said.

    The CPP said the ceasefire may also contribute to a “positive atmosphere conducive to the eventual holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations.

    In March last year, Duterte said he was permanently terminating the peace talks with the communists. Nine months later, Duterte sent Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to the Netherlands, where Sison has been on self-exile since the late 80s, to discuss with communist leaders the possibility of resuming the talks.

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