UTRECHT, The Netherlands—The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said it will seriously study the ceasefire request by President Rodrigo Duterte during the time of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) emergency despite doubts that the government’s deployment of military forces in Metro Manila is really to fight the pandemic.
NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said that if Duterte is really serious with his request, he should make a formal offer through the government’s negotiating panel to their counterparts based in this city.
“The offer will be seriously studied by the NDFP and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). It will be related not only to the common fight against Covid-19 but also to the resumption of the peace negotiations,” Sison said.
Duterte made the ceasefire request in a speech in Malacañang Monday, March 16, asking the New People’s Army’s help in containing the disease by not attacking government soldiers.
“Ceasefire lang. Ceasefire muna tayo. Ako na ang naghihingi. Ceasefire. Kindly give me that…if you want us to be always on talking terms…during this crisis. Kindly cooperate and help. Mas mabuting tumulong na lang muna kayo. I will repay you with a good heart in the coming days,” Duterte said.
Sison said that in studying Duterte’s request, the NDFP will demand that public funds be poured into the effort to fight Covid-19 to ensure that there are adequate health workers, facilities, equipment and medicines.
NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili for his part said he awaits a formal request from his government counterparts if Duterte is really serious with his ceasefire request and promises.
“Of course we are always ready to accept their formal proposals,” Agcaoili said.
Sison added that “the NDFP will certainly demand that the GRP realign government spending from excessive military spending and from rampant corruption in order to pursue genuine land reform and national industrialization and expand social services, specially public health and education.”
In the meantime, the revolutionary forces and the people themselves have to undertake collective efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic while remaining guarded against “continuing military assaults under NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) and various operational plans of the Duterte regime,” Sison said.
Sison said that Duterte has admitted in his speech that his redeployment of his military and police to urban areas would leave a vacuum and will allow the NPA to increase its tactical offensives in the countryside. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)