MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels to ensure the effective imposition of an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the entire Luzon, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte ordered the military and the police to stop offensives against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed and political wings, the New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
The suspension of military operations takes effect on March 19 and expires on April 15, Panelo said.
“In view of the imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon amidst the threat of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has decided to declare a unilateral ceasefire against the (CPP-NPA-NDF), effective 00:00H of March 19, 2020 to 24:00H of April 15, 2020,” he said.
Duterte placed the island of Luzon under quarantine until April 12 in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Earlier Wednesday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 15 new cases of Covid-19 in the country, bringing the total number of infected people to 202.
The DOH also confirmed that 17 people died due to the disease.
Panelo said the declaration of unilateral ceasefire is to ensure government would be able to efficiently address the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
“Through this ceasefire, the Philippine Government aspires that the swift provision of public health assistance goes unimpeded with the movement of health workers and medical supplies to communities, as well as of people in need of immediate medical attention remains unhampered,” he said.
Panelo said Duterte directed the Defense and Local Government departments, along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, “to cease and desist from carrying out offensive military and police operations during the ceasefire period.”
“Both of these departments shall issue the corresponding orders to implement the declaration of the unilateral ceasefire, including the Suspension of Offensive Military and Police Operations,” he said.
People residing in Luzon are mandated to observe strict home quarantine and limit their movement during the month-long quarantine period.
CPP founder Jose Maria Sison on Tuesday said the CPP will consider Duterte’s ceasefire proposal amid the government’s efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19. (PNA)