‘CPP already helping fight Covid-19 even before Duterte’s truce announcement’

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates–Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) forces are already carrying out a mass campaign to fight the corona virus disease (Covid-19) outbreak even before the Rodrigo Duterte government announced a 27-day ceasefire in line with its imposition of a lockdown, the group announced.

In a statement Thursday, March 19, the CPP said it had already issued directives to all its forces to encourage collective action to respond comprehensively and extensively to the threat of the outbreak.

“Ceasefire or not, NPA Red fighters have already been directed to step up efforts to render social, economic, medical and public health services to the people. In particular, units of the NPA are working with local people’s health committees. Red fighters and the people are coordinating efforts to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 in their areas,” the underground party said in reaction to Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire announcement Wednesday, March 17.

Malacañan Palace said government’s ceasefire is meant to allow the military and police to concentrate on helping fight the outbreak.

The CPP however said it remains to be seen if the ceasefire announcement is really to help fight the virus, more so that it appears that the military is using Duterte’s lockdown to further militarize Luzon island.

“Whether Duterte’s ceasefire order will indeed supercede previous orders to mount all-out war to crush the NPA (New People’sArmy) remains to be seen,” the CPP said.

The group revealed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are conducting intense combat, intelligence, psychological warfare and suppression operations in Abra, Mt. Province, Quezon, Mindoro, Masbate, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Samar, Negros, Bukidnon, South Cotabato and other provinces leading to widespread abuses of human rights.

It also mentioned the “cold-blooded murder” of Party leader Julius Giron who was convalescing in Baguio City, his physician Lourdes Tan Torres and an unnamed aide last March 13.

The group said that in light of Duterte’s Covid-19 lockdown, rural peasant communities are worried that the emerging public health emergency might be used as pretext to impose even worse population control measures and economic blockade in their villages which will cause further hardships on the people.

“There is concern that Duterte’s ceasefire might be used to make available more soldiers to further reinforce the military lockdown against the population which have already caused grave hardships on the people in the National Capital Region and across the provinces,” the CPP said.

The party can issue its own unilateral ceasefire declaration in due time, when conditions or negotiations warrant such, the group added.

“At the moment, all units of the NPA are advised to remain on alert even with Duterte’s ceasefire declaration. They must remain on active defense and ready to give battle to AFP and PNP units which continue to conduct offensive operations or conduct suppression activities against the people,” it said.

The CPP advised the NPA and all its revolutionary forces to closely monitor whether the AFP and PNP actually implement their ceasefire declaration, whether troops conducting combat operations are ordered withdrawn, and whether it has put to stop aerial and human surveillance and intelligence operations, psywar and suppression activities in rural communities, conscription of paramilitary forces, forcing to “surrender,” requiring residents to render unpaid labor to construct military detachments in villages, and other military abuses.

“All units of the NPA, as well as local revolutionary organizations and committees, must promptly submit their reports to their higher commands and to the leading committees of the Party,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)