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PNP, AFP back ceasefire with NPA amid COVID-19

The Philippine National Police (PNP) suspended all tactical operations against the New People’s Army and adopted a defensive posture.

PNP chief General Archie Gamboa said the suspension of operations took effect at midnight of yesterday until April 15, 2020.

All national, regional, provincial, and district units engaged in internal security operations have shifted focus to disaster response and public safety to enforce the enhanced community quarantine across the country to contain COVID-19.

“This cessation of police offensive operations against the CPP-NPA will allow PNP maneuver units to be fully utilized for quarantine control and general public safety operations to ensure swift and immediate assistance to patients and persons under investigation and monitoring,” he said.

The PNP personnel are instructed to maintain defensive vigilance against possible hostile actions by armed threat groups.

The Directorate for Operations has cascaded the instruction to all PNP commanders nationwide, particularly in the Luzon regions for strict implementation. The PNP Command Center will monitor compliance of all units to this directive.

“We remain hopeful that the CPP-NPA-NDF will reciprocate the government’s gesture good faith in the interest of public welfare and peace,” he further said.

In a text message, Maj. Eudisan Gultiano, the spokesperson of Police Regional Office XI, said the PRO 11 will follow on the directives of the PNP national headquarters.

Meanwhile, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. told TIMES that they fully support President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of unilateral ceasefire, which took effect at 00:01 of March 19, 2020 until 23:59 of April 15, 2020.

Santos said the President showed that he is willing to go beyond the usual means—including the temporary halt on the hostilities— if only to create the condition where soldiers will not be attacked while delivering government services.

By the President’s action, he said the message is clear: “The safety, health, and well-being of our countrymen in the face of COVID-19 pandemic is primordial.”

“I call on every soldier, airmen, sailors, marines, and reservists to continue their keen focus on their mission to protect our people from and assist medical health practitioners in the fight against this dreaded disease,” The AFP chief said.

“We have been through ceasefire declarations in the past where the NPA disregards government’s good faith,” he said.

“While I direct the troops to observe guarded optimism, your AFP will not be deterred by similar treacherous attacks by Communist Terrorist Group,” he added. “We will be there where and when we are needed,” he further said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a unilateral ceasefire with armed communist rebels as the government struggles to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.

The President has directed the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), “to cease and desist from carrying out offensive military and police operations during the ceasefire period.”

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