National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said President Rodrigo Duterte was merely pretending when he asked for a ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to cover up on his failure to stop the coronavirus from entering the country while planning to plunder the anti-pandemic budget.
In his reply to Duterte’s latest tirade against him, the CPP and the New People’s Army (NPA), Sison said Duterte is trying to deflect attention from his “criminal responsibility” for the entry of the coronavirus to the Philippines by allowing the entry of more than half a million Chinese tourists even after the pandemic has broken out in China.
Sison also scored the president’s “lack of preparations and plan for fighting the pandemic” and instead taking the opportunity to advance his “fascist dictatorship” and corruption.
In his latest address to the nation broadcast late Monday night, May 4, Duterte said there is no longer hope in talking to Sison and the NDFP in peace negotiations.
The president also cautioned the police to be careful as NPA rebels are “itching” to grab their rifles, an opportunity that will increase once the president would order the Philippine National Police in conducting contact tracing on coronavirus victims.
“Be careful, you soldiers and police…Do not be too confident about it. Even your stations are being raided. They will kill you and I am telling you, kill them also,” Duterte said.
Sison however said it is convenient for Duterte to scapegoat and attack the NPA to deflect attention to the government’s failures on containing the virus and to deliver food and cash assistance, mass testing and medical treatment to the people.
“At the same time, he has used Covid-19 as the reason for grabbing emergency powers, the immediate amount of more than 375 billion pesos and the license to realign the 2020 budget,” Sison said.
“[I]t became clear that his overriding malicious objective was to scapegoat the CPP and NPA in order to advance his ambition of realizing a Marcos-type highly-centralized and brutal fascist dictatorship through charter change under the pretext of federalism as well as though the application of Oplan Tokhang methods of extrajudicial killings and mass intimidation against social activists, critics and opponents and the broad masses of the people,” Sison said.
In one of his first addresses on the coronavirus last March 16, it was Duterte who asked for a ceasefire with the NPA he said would give his government, the military and the police the chance to concentrate on containing the spread of the pandemic in the Philippines.
The government then issued a unilateral ceasefire declaration last March 19 that lasted until April 15.
Responding to a global appeal by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres for all warring parties to temporary lay down arms to focus on fighting the pandemic, the CPP issued its unilateral ceasefire order to the NPA last March 23 to also end on April 15.
The CPP extended its truce order to April 30 despite accusing the military of not abiding by its own ceasefire declaration.
Sison said it had been Duterte’s plan to try to trick the rebels that backfired when more soldiers had been killed in dozens of military operations against the NPA fighters throughout the country.
“After pretending to declare a unilateral ceasefire and plead for reciprocation by the revolutionary movement, he has persisted in launching military offensives against the CPP and NPA and blame them for his own crimes, his ceaseless drive for fascist dictatorship and his failure to deliver sufficient food and cash assistance, mass testing and other necessities under the severe conditions of so-called enhanced quarantine,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)