DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison said the communist movement will “seriously study” the ceasefire proposal by President Rodrigo Duterte as the country is battling to contain the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
Sison, who is chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front, said in a statement that if the president is serious with this offer, he must course a formal offer of ceasefire through the peace panels.
“The offer will be seriously studied by the NDFP and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). It will be related not only to the common fight against Covid-19 but also to the resumption of the peace negotiations,” said Sison.
President Duterte made the appeal to the communist group during a press briefing Monday evening when he announced the enhanced community quarantine of Luzon as COVID-19 cases spiked in the Luzon.
“Let’s go on a ceasefire for now. Kindly give me that…if you want us to be always on talking terms…during this crisis. Kindly cooperate and help… I will repay you with a good heart in the coming days,” Duterte said.
Peace talks between the government and the Reds were terminated late in 2017 in the middle of negotiating for socio-economic reforms. After this, the president formed the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict to suppress the communist movement.
But Sison expressed doubts of the ceasefire as he cited reports claiming the deployment of police and army personnel is “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 the NDF may ask for more conditions from the government on the ceasefire.
“The NDFP will demand that the public funds be poured into the effort to fight Covid-19 so that there will be adequate health workers, facilities, equipment and medicines for the purpose,” Sison said.
The communist leader said they might demand the government to ” realign excessive military spending and rampant corruption in order to pursue genuine land reform and national industrialization and expand social services, especially public health and education.” (davaotoday.com)