Duterte declares ceasefire with Reds

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 18 Mar) – Beset by rising deaths from the deadly COVID-19, President Rodrigo Duterte decided to declare a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist rebels nationwide.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the ceasefire would become effective from March 19 to April 15, 2020.

Panelo said President Duterte directed the Department of Defense; Department of the Interior and Local Government; 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.

He said both departments are also directed to issue the corresponding orders to implement the declaration of the unilateral ceasefire, including the Suspension of Offensive Military and Police Operations (SOMO).

Panelo said the government hopes that the ceasefire will allow the unimpeded movement of health workers and medical supplies across areas where there is a strong presence of New People’s Army rebels.

The Department of Health reported that the death toll for COVID-19 rose to 17 with 202 confirmed cases as of noon Wednesday.

There was no immediate answer from the National Democratic Front but its consultant, Jose Maria Sison, said the communist party should be wary of the ceasefire proposed by President Duterte.

In an article posted in the NDF page last March 16, Sison said the ceasefire could be used to suppress the people’s democratic forces in the urban area.

“But if he is really serious with his offer to have a ceasefire with the NDFP he must make a formal offer through the GRP negotiating panel to the NDFP negotiating panel,” Sison said.

Sison said the NDFP and the Communist party will “seriously study” Duterte’s offer to see if this can also lead to a resumption of the peace negotiations.

New People’s Army rebels in Bukidnon have complained of unrelenting military attacks against their guerilla bases despite the onset of COVID-19

In a text message sent by Pia Paraiso, NPA media liaison officer, she said the attack involved 400 soldiers from the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)