MANILA - The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on Wednesday said the underground communist movement sees no clear basis yet to reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire declared by the Philippine government.
In a statement, NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said the goverment's ceasefire declaration amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is insincere.
"The NDFP is not assured and satisfied that the reciprocal unilateral ceasefires are based on national unity against [coronavirus disease 2019] (COVID-19)," he said.
"Unless it receives sufficient assurances from the GRP, the NDFP will be inclined to think that the GRP unilateral ceasefire declaration is not sincere and is not intended to invite reciprocation by the NDFP but is meant to be a mere psywar trick," he added.
Sison claimed that the lack of sincerity of President Rodrigo Duterte in seeking a ceasefire with the NDFP is manifested in the "militaristic" Luzon-wide community lockdown.
"The militarist lockdown on the whole of Luzon is meant not to fight the COVID-19 pandemic but to intimidate the people, suppress democratic rights, commit human rights violations and prevent the working people from going to their workplaces, and immobilize even the health workers and people who wish to tested and treated for COVID-19 and serious ailments," he claimed.
"The AFP and PNP continue to redtag, abduct and murder social activists, including human rights defenders, in urban areas and to unleash attacks against the people in the guerrilla fronts of the New People’s Army," Sison alleged.
Sison said that the NDFP hopes that both parties will come up with clearer ceasefire terms.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier 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 virus.
The ceasefire will take effect March 19 and last until April 15, 2020, Malacañang said.
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.