MANILA – Malacañang on Sunday told the communist guerrillas not to expect President Rodrigo Duterte to declare another unilateral ceasefire amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in the country.
In an interview with DZBB, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte might no longer direct 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).
“Tapos na po yung ceasefire. ‘Yan po ay natapos na at hindi pa nare-renew. Sa tingin ko naman, sa patuloy na pag-atake ng NPA, ‘wag na po silang umasa siguro bagamat ‘yan pa rin ay desisyon ng ating Presidente (The ceasefire already expired and has yet to be renewed. I think, NPA rebels should not expect another truce, considering their relentless attacks. However, the decision is still up to the President),” Roque said.
Duterte earlier ordered the suspension of military operations from March 19 to April 15.
The CPP-NPA reciprocated the truce and extended it until April 30.
Duterte, however, has yet to announce another extension of unilateral ceasefire.
Despite the declaration of ceasefire, NPA members continue to attack government troops, including those who are involved in the distribution of relief assistance to the poor families affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
The latest NPA attack happened Friday in Masbate’s Monreal town where a police officer and a local government official were wounded.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the Philippine National Police said the NPA attacked a police vehicle carrying personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and local officials who distributed cash assistance to qualified beneficiaries in Monreal, Masbate.
Roque was dismayed by NPA rebels’ series of attacks, despite the government’s call for them to help in the fight against Covid-19.
“‘Yun pa rin po nakalulungkot dahil galing nga po sila sa ganoong aktibidades (That is saddening because they attack those who are involved in the distribution of cash aid),” he said. “’Yan naman po ay hindi rin dapat. Hindi ko makita kung ano ang military objective nila sa ganyang pag-atake (That’s unacceptable. I do not see their military objective in launching such attack).”
In a speech delivered before his Cabinet officials on April 23, Duterte broached the idea of declaring martial law, in case NPA guerillas’ lawlessness persists.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the President can impose martial rule, when there is presence or invasion or rebellion.
Roque maintained that Duterte might be compelled to declare martial law, should NPA members continue to perpetrate unlawful acts.
“’Pag hindi sila tumigil sa pag-atake at pagkuha ng mga ayuda na binibigay ng gobyerno sa taumbayan, ay mapipilitan siya (Duterte) mag-martial law (If they do not stop from attacking the government forces and stealing the assistance intended for qualified beneficiaries, he has no choice but declare martial law),” he said.
The CPP-NPA has been tagged as terror group by the Philippines, United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (PNA)