Police, military offensive vs rebels called off
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday called off all police and military offensives against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) following President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a ceasefire with insurgents because of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
Mr. Duterte on Wednesday declared a ceasefire with the rebels from midnight of Thursday until April 15. But CPP founding chair and National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison dismissed the government’s ceasefire as “a mere psywar trick,” saying there was no clear basis yet for his group to reciprocate the gesture.
In a statement on Thursday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana directed the AFP “to temporarily suspend all offensive combat operations against the communist terrorist group,” and to strictly implement the unilateral ceasefire effective 12 a.m. of March 19 until 11:59 p.m. of April 15.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also directed the PNP “to terminate all ongoing and planned offensive police operations against the communist terrorist groups in all parts of the country.”
Año said the PNP “must direct all its efforts in ensuring peace and order in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, including the task of securing entry and exit points, ensuring that people abide by the quarantine and social distancing measures, and assisting local government units in their anti-COVID-19 programs, among others.”
In a statement from Utrecht, the Netherlands, on Wednesday night, Sison described the ceasefire declaration as “premature, if not insincere and false, and just a psywar trick.”
He added that the military and police “continue to Red-tag, abduct and murder social activists, including human rights defenders.” —With a report from Delfin Mallari Jr.
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