By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu – Reporter / @GabrielLaluINQ
INQUIRER.net / 12:06 AM March 25, 2020
MANILA, Philippines – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has announced a ceasefire from March 26 to April 15 to allow the government to focus on its fight against the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
According to CPP’s statement on Tuesday found in the website of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), they are heeding the latter’s recommendation of a ceasefire, in accordance with the United Nations (UN) request for warring parties all over the world to stop fighting temporarily.
CPP’s armed force New People’s Army (NPA) was ordered to stand down and refrain from making offensives against the government forces.
“Upon the recommendation of the Negotiating Panel of the (NDFP), by way of direct response to the call of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire between warring parties for the common purpose of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) hereby orders all commands and units of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the people’s militias to observe a nationwide ceasefire that will take effect from 00:00H of 26 March 2020 to 23:59H of 15 April 2020,” CPP said.
“During the ceasefire period, 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,” it added.
Previously, communist leader Jose Maria Sison said that both the CPP and the NDFP are seriously looking into President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer of a ceasefire, as the Philippines grapples with the latest coronavirus strain.
As of Tuesday, Luzon is still under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the rising COVID-19 cases. The Department of Health said that there are already 552 confirmed cases in the Philippines, 35 of which have already died while at least 20 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 370,000 COVID-19 cases have been recorded, while 16,228 patients have died, and another 97,677 patients have recovered.
Despite the ceasefire, CPP advised NPA units to remain vigilant for possible offensives from government forces despite the ECQ, forcing military and police personnel to man checkpoints and patrol streets.
However, the communist group also noted that the ceasefire may be seen as a confidence-building measure as the peace negotiations move forward.
“All units of the NPA must be vigilant and be ready to act in self-defense against any tactical offensives or any hostile actions or movements contrary to the ceasefire order launched by an enemy force against the people and revolutionary forces in the guerrilla fronts of the people’s democratic government,” CPP said.
“The ceasefire may potentially contribute as well towards a positive atmosphere conducive to the eventual holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations,” it added.
The COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that first emerged in China’s city of Wuhan in Hubei province in late 2019.
The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the novel coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2.
Coronavirus is a family of viruses, whose surfaces have a crown-like appearance. The viruses are named for the spikes on their surfaces.