Duterte asks Reds for ceasefire amid COVID-19 pandemic

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2020 09:56 PM | Updated as of Mar 17 2020 01:36 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacañan Palace on March 16, 2020. Karl Norman Alonzo, Presidential Photo

MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte called for a truce with communist rebels on Monday as the country grapples with containing the rapidly spreading new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Duterte made the appeal during a public address as he placed the entire island of Luzon under an expanded quarantine.

“Ceasefire muna tayo. Mas mabuti pang tumulong muna kayo. I will repay you with a good heart,” he said.

The President called for cooperation among Filipinos in adhering to government protocols to combat the virus spread, saying everyone is a “soldier” at this time.

“Lahat po tayo ay sundalo sa digmaang ito,” he said.

He however assured the public that the “enhanced community quarantine” in Luzon is not a form of martial law even if there would be more deployed troops.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said it will "seriously study" Duterte's offer for a ceasefire.

The NDFP's Jose Maria Sison, however, said that the President must make a formal offer to show his sincerity.

Duterte on Monday announced that he is formally placing the entire Luzon island under a tougher quarantine which meant strict home confinement in all households, suspended transportation lines, regulated provision for food and essential health services, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce isolation procedures.

“I am placing the entire mainland of Luzon under quarantine until April 12, 2020 coinciding with the entire end of the Holy Week. Let me make myself clear, this is not martial law,” he said.

Establishments offering basic services and goods meanwhile will be allowed to operate, Duterte clarified.

As of Monday night, the Philippines has recorded a total of 142 cases of COVID-19 with 12 deaths.