DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Jose Maria Sison advised the National Council to issue a unilateral ceasefire declaration from 00:00H of 26 March 2020 to 23:59H of 15 April 2020 to help the fight versus the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The world must know that long before the belated quarantine declarations and repressive measures of the GRP, the NDFP and the revolutionary forces have been informing, training, and mobilizing the people on how to fight the pandemic,” Sison said in a statement.
Sison’s move is in response to the call made by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to put the armed conflict on lockdown and support the fight against COVID-19.
“COVID-19 does not care about nationality or ethnicity, or other differences between people, and “attacks all, relentlessly”, including during wartime,” Guterres said Monday (Mar. 23).
He made the appeal for an “immediate global ceasefire” to protect vulnerable civilians in conflict zones from the ravages of the said pandemic.
The unilateral ceasefire, according to Sison, will put a halt to the launching of tactical offensives and direct the NDFP forces to look after the health and over-all welfare of the people in both urban and rural areas.
Sison initially expressed doubts on the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Rodrigo Duterte on March 15 as there were reports of police and army personnel deployment “meant not to help in the fight against COVID-19 but to suppress the people’s democratic movement in the urban areas.”
The exiled leader said that NFDP does not want to appear as directly condoning the Duterte administration for allowing the virus to spread since January and implementing a militarist lockdown instead of providing medical alternatives such as mass testing when it refused the unilateral declaration of the GRP.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo considered Sison’s recommendation for a ceasefire a “positive development”.
Panelo said the Duterte government welcomes the cooperation of all, including the Left, as this would help provide a safe and peaceful environment where there is free movement of health workers, medical supplies, and food.
On Tuesday (Mar. 24), the Department of Health reported 552 cases of COVID-19 with 35 deaths and 20 recoveries. (davaotoday.com)