MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it will not be deterred by attacks of the communist rebels even if it supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to declare a unilateral truce with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in wake of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis.
“The AFP fully supports the President and C-in-C’s (Commander-in-Chief) declaration of government’s own ceasefire to take effect zero hundred hours of 19 March 2020 to last until 23:59 of 15 April 2020,” said AFP chief-of-staff, Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., in a statement sent to reporters late Wednesday.
Santos said Duterte’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire shows the President is willing to go beyond the usual means to ensure that troops helping in efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19 will not be attacked and that provisions of the needs of the Filipino public will not be impeded.
“By this declaration, the C-in-C shows clearly that he is willing to go beyond the usual means—including that of making a temporary halt to hostilities with an arch-enemy of the state. We have been through ceasefire declarations in the past when the NPA disregarded the government’s good faith. While I direct the troops to observe guarded optimism, your AFP will not be deterred by similar treacherous attacks by Communist Terrorist Group,” he added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
“By the President’s action, the message is clear: the safety, health, and well-being of our countrymen in the face of Covid-19 pandemic is primordial,” Santos said.
He also called on every soldier, airmen, sailors, marines, and reservists to continue their keen focus on their mission to protect the people from and assist medical health practitioners in the fight against Covid-19. (PNA)