DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) declared a nationwide ceasefire order Tuesday for its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) and its militias amid the country’s efforts to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The CPP Central Committee, in a statement, said the ceasefire order shall take effect on March 26 to April 15, where “all NPA units and people’s militias shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military operations against the armed units and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other paramilitary and armed groups attached to the GRP,” the CPP said.
The CPP and National Democratic Front said the ceasefire is dependent and not a reciprocate of the Philippine government’s issuance of Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension of Police Operations (SOPO) made from March 19 to April 15.
NDFP Chief Political Consultant and CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison said the declaration is in response to the call by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to put the armed conflict on lockdown and support the fight against COVID-19.
The CPP statement said: “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 communist party said, however, all NPA units and CPP committees and their mass organizations will “closely monitor any hostile actions being carried out” by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police.
Earlier, the NDFP was wary of issuing a ceasefire because of reported bombings and military operations affecting communities in Davao de Oro and Bukidnon, and the assassination of ranking CPP leaders in Baguio City.
At the same time, the NDFP reiterated its demand to the Duterte administration to release all political prisoners through a general amnesty.
The group added that the ceasefire may also potentially contribute towards a positive atmosphere conducive to the eventual holding of informal talks in preparation to the formal meeting for a possibility of resumption of the stalled peace negotiations. (davaotoday.com)