Coronavirus: Philippine Guerrilla Adopts Ceasefire After UN Request

  • Jose Maria Sison, founder of the PKP and leader of the NPA, announced on Tuesday that he has recommended a unilateral ceasefire to his troops following the UN's request.
  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte last week declared a unilateral ceasefire in his fight with the NPA.
  • "Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19," Guterres declared in a virtual press conference.

Filipino guerrillas in the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines, will adopt a ceasefire after the call of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, for a world truce to stop all wars to help cope with the coronavirus on Monday.

The New People’s Army, abbreviated NPA or BHB, is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), based primarily in the Philippine countryside. Founded on March 29, 1969 by the collaboration of Jose Maria Sison and former members of the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan led by Bernabe Buscayno, the NPA has since waged a guerrilla war based on the Maoist strategy of protracted people’s war.

Jose Maria Sison, founder of the PKP and leader of the NPA, announced on Tuesday that he has recommended a unilateral ceasefire to his troops following the UN’s request. NPA bases must “refrain from launching tactical offensives in order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure general health and well-being,” Sison said in a statement.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte last week declared a unilateral ceasefire in his fight with the NPA, and for the Army to focus on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Sison then refused to reciprocate the move, calling it a trap to commit human rights violations. Now Sison— self-exiled in the Netherlands for three decades— has changed his mind after Guterres’ call on Monday for a “global ceasefire between warring parties” amid the threat of the coronavirus.

COVID-19, the “Common Enemy”

“Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19,” Guterres declared in a virtual press conference. He stressed that it is time to stop all conflicts to focus on “the true fight of our lives.” He also emphasized that countries affected by wars, with destroyed health systems and many displaced persons and refugees, are especially vulnerable to the virus.

Jose Maria Sison also known by his nickname Joma, is a Filipino writer and activist who founded the Communist Party of the Philippines and added elements of Maoism to its philosophy. Since August 2002, he has been classified as a “person supporting terrorism” by the United States.

The announcement comes after the Philippine Congress approved a law on Tuesday that declares a national emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The law also grants special powers to Duterte, who will be able to adopt urgent measures without consulting Congress, and even intervene in some private companies. After intense deliberations that began the previous day, the House of Representatives and the Senate unified their versions of the law, which has generated great controversy and provoked criticism from the opposition and human rights organizations.

The Philippines has confirmed 552 cases of COVID-19 and 35 deaths. It is estimated, though, that there are thousands of undetected cases due to the lack of resources in a country where millions of people live in overcrowding. With 106 million inhabitants, the Philippines has only carried out some 1,600 coronavirus tests since January.

According to news from the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, on Tuesday, the First Affiliated Hospital of Medical College of Zhejiang University and the Chinese Chongren General Hospital conducted in-depth exchanges through video conference on issues related to the prevention and treatment of the new corona pneumonia pandemic. Representatives of the embassy attended the meeting.

In the nearly two-hour video conference, medical experts from the First Hospital of Zhejiang University shared in detail China’s advanced experience and cases in the diagnosis and treatment of epidemic conditions patiently answered questions and doubts of doctors of Chongren Hospital in diagnosis and treatment and combined the actual situation in the Philippines.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.


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