Philippines declares ceasefire with communist rebels amid Luzon lockdown

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2020 08:43 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday declared a unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels, as state forces were sent to man borders and enforce guidelines of the Luzon-wide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). 

The ceasefire will take effect March 19 and last until April 15, 2020, Malacañang said. 

The President ordered the Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to "cease and desist from carrying out offensive military and police operations during the ceasefire period," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. 

"Through this ceasefire, the Philippine government aspires that the swift provision of public health assistance goes unimpeded with the movement of health workers and medical supplies to communities, well as of people in need of immediate medical attention," Panelo said. 

Duterte placed Luzon under enhanced community quarantine on midnight Monday, strictly suspending all public transport, school and work save for frontline services and some exempt private sector enterprises, barring public gatherings, and intensifying troop deployment to enforce travel restrictions. 

This as government sought to stop the spread of COVID-19, which has infected 202 people as of Wednesday, with 17 deaths and 7 recoveries. 

Government peace negotiations with the communist rebels earlier collapsed after continued rebel attacks on state troops despite ongoing talks.