By: Delfin T. Mallari Jr. – @inquirerdotnet
Inquirer Southern Luzon / 06:02 PM March 22, 2020
LUCENA CITY, Philippines – Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison claimed that the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels are also too busy in fighting the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 and thus, have no time to stage attacks against government forces who have been observing unilateral ceasefire.
“The CPP, NPA and NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) are extremely busy now trying to fight the Covid-19 pandemic which Duterte and his gang allowed to enter and spread in the Philippines,” Sison said in a statement from his base in Utrecht in The Netherlands Sunday afternoon.
Sison made the statement in response to Inquirer question if the NPA rebels would still launch offensive operations against state-security forces amid the COVID-19 scare as they rejected the government truce offer.
But Sison has made it clear that the communist guerillas are ready to defend themselves once attacked by government forces.
“At the same time, according to the NDFP and the CPP, the NPA is ready to defend the people whenever any unit of the AFP, PNP and paramilitary forces attacks them,” he stressed.
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. accused the NPA rebels for the killings of Manobo tribal chieftain Datu Bernardino Austidillo and Zaldy Ibanez, a former rebel on Thursday evening – a day after President Duterte formally declared a ceasefire – in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.
Also on the same night, a band of NPA rebels reportedly harassed a patrol base of Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit or Cafgu in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
On Wednesday, President Duterte formally declared a truce and ordered all government forces to cease their operations against communist rebels from March 19 to April 15 as Luzon was placed under “enhanced community quarantine” to combat COVID-19.
But Sison described the truce declaration as “premature, if not insincere and false, and just a psywar trick.”
The CPP also maintained that the NPA does not need a ceasefire with the government to help in the battle against the viral disease.