Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Declare ceasefire, Joma urges NDF

From the Manila Times (Mar 25, 2020): Declare ceasefire, Joma urges NDF (By Dempsey Reyes)

Exiled communist leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison has called on the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ (NDFP) to declare a truce amid the coronavirus pandemic and in answer to the appeal for ceasefire by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison

Sison on Tuesday said he would advise the NDFP negotiating panel to recommend to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) to declare a ceasefire.

Another Rally

Sison, founding chairman of the CPP, is the NDFP’s chief political consultant.

“The NDFP and the broad masses of the people themselves need to refrain from launching tactical offensives to gain more time and opportunity to fight the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic and to look after the health and overall welfare of the people in both urban and rural areas,” Sison said in a statement.

“While the New People’s Army can cease and desist from launching tactical offensives against the military, police and paramilitary forces of the [Philippine government], it must be vigilant and be ready to act in self-defense against any tactical offensive launched by any enemy force against the people and revolutionary forces in the guerilla fronts of the people’s democratic government,” he added.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire as the government tightened the community quarantine imposed on Luzon.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. also supported the call of Guterres for a global ceasefire while countries battle the pandemic.

“We could not agree more with the UN SecGen’s call for a global ceasefire,” Santos said in a separate statement. “The Philippine government has already declared a unilateral ceasefire with the NPA midnight of March 19, 2020. And the AFP, from its leadership down to the last element on the ground, adheres to it religiously.”

“In this time of great need, our people can depend upon the AFP to close ranks to man the barricades against Covid-19,” he added.

Guterres urged warring parties across the world to lay down their weapons and help fight the virus.

“The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” the UN chief said. “That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

The ceasefire would allow humanitarians to reach populations that are most vulnerable to the spread of Covid-19, which first emerged in Wuhan, China, last December and has now been reported in more than 180 countries.

The UN chief called on warring parties to pull back from hostilities, put aside mistrust and animosity, and “silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes.”

This is crucial, he said, “to help create corridors for life-saving aid. To open precious windows for diplomacy. To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to Covid-19.”

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