The founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines says his group is not keen on the government’s offer of a ceasefire in the middle of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease or COVID-19.
In a statement, Jose Maria Sison said the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday was “premature if not insincere and false.”
Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire to ensure the effective imposition of an enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon, Malacañang said.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte ordered the military and the police to stop offensives against the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed and political wings, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front.
The suspension of military operations takes effect on March 19 and expires on April 15, Panelo said.
But Sison said there was “no clear basis” for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-the CPP’s negotiating arm―to reciprocate the declaration.
“The NDFP is not assured and satisfied that the reciprocal unilateral ceasefires are based on national unity against COVID-19, the appropriate solution of the pandemic as a medical problem and protection of the most vulnerable sectors of the population, including workers, health workers, those with any serious ailments and the political prisoners,” Sison said Wednesday.
Unless they were assured otherwise, the NDFP would be inclined to believe the unilateral ceasefire was a mere “psywar trick.”
Duterte frst pushed the idea of a ceasefire in a speech on March 16 where he said, “’Wag ninyo munang galawin ang mga sundalo. Ano muna tayo, ceasefire lang. Ceasefire muna tayo. Ako na ang nanghihingi.
“Kindly give me that... if you really want that we will be at all times on talking terms in this time of crisis.”
Sison said the proposal would be seriously studied by the NDFP.
“The President has directed the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to cease and desist from carrying out offensive military and police operations during the ceasefire period,” Panelo said in a statement.
Duterte walked away from the peace talks with the communist rebels in 2017 as both sides accused each other of ceasefire violations. The two sides have been considering returning to the negotiating table, but Duterte and Sison could not agree on contentious issues, including the venue for the meetings.
The document on the Suspension of Offensive Military and Police Operations will be issued soon, Panelo said.