Palace to Reds: It's time to join national efforts vs COVID-19
Malacanang said on Tuesday this is now the time for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front to join the government in addressing the coronavirus disease pandemic.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after CPP founder Jose Mari Sison, who is also the NDF chief political consultant, advised the negotiating panel of the Maoist group to recommend to its council, the issuance of a unilateral ceasefire declaration to the NPA as a response to the call of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire between warring parties for the common purpose of fighting the virus pandemic.
"It is about time they join the collective efforts of the nation to fight the spread of the coronavirus," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a text message to reporters.
In a statement he issued later in the day, Panelo said that at this crucial time, the Filipino people deserve and need a safe and peaceful environment where there is unimpeded movement of health workers, medical supplies, food and other needs and services, in view of the current state of calamity and public health emergency.
"We therefore welcome the cooperation of all, including those in the Left, to realize our goal of absolute peace during these times," he said.
With Sison's proposal, Panelo said the Palace also hopes that the NPA on the ground would "show genuine sincerity in laying down their arms and not use the occasion to mobilize their forces."
"The Palace looks forward that they would make good -- and stay true to -- their words," he added.
Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the military and the police for unilateral ceasefire against the CPP-NPA-NDF so that they could focus more in implementing the enhanced community quarantine or lockdown in Luzon, including Metro Manila, and the community quarantine in other parts of the country as part of the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"The NDF and the broad masses of the people themselves need to refrain from launching tactical offensives to gain more time and opportunity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and to look after the health and over-all welfare of the people in both urban and rural areas. The world must know that long before the belated quarantine declarations and repressive measures of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines), the NDF and the revolutionary forces have been informing, training and mobilizing the people on how to fight the pandemic," said Sison, who is self-exiled in the Netherlands.
But he warned the NPA, the armed wing of the communist group, to be vigilant and ready to act in self-defense against any tactical offensive launched by the government troops. Celerina Monte/DMS