MANILA - It will be up to the Philippine government's body handling local armed conflict to recommend the extension of the administration's truce against communist rebels as the country confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, Malacañang said Sunday.
Government's declaration of a unilateral ceasefire against insurgents had lapsed on April 15, while the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) extended its truce until the end of the Luzon lockdown on April 30.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said the insurgents "violated their own declaration of truce" when they forcibly seized goods in Eastern Samar last April 7.
"The call for peace is everyone's desire and it has become more urgent in the present state of calamity and public health emergency," Roque said.
"We find it, however, unfortunate that the members of the New People's Army (NPA) themselves violated their own declaration of truce in the form of violent armed encounters with government troops."
President Rodrigo Duterte last month declared a unilateral truce from March 19 until April 15 as state forces were sent to man borders and enforce guidelines of the Luzon-wide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.
"On whether government would extend the unilateral ceasefire, this matter is something the National Task Force on Ending Local Armed Conflict can discuss with the President," Roque said.
As of Saturday, the Philippines has recorded 6,087 cases of COVID-19, with 516 recoveries and 397 deaths.