The refusal of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to reciprocate a truce with the government due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak shows that the communist movement is not concerned about the public health crisis the nation is facing.
“Ang buong bansa po ay nasa state of national calamity ngunit ang tugon po ng kaliwa ay ganito. Lumalabas lang po ang tunay nilang kulay (The whole country is under a state of calamity and yet they respond like this. It only shows their true colors.),” Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in a televised press briefing.
“Lumalabas po sa kanilang mga aksyon na wala po talaga silang pakialam sa sitwasyon na kinahaharap ng ating bansa. Lumalabas po na makasarili lang sila (Their actions show that they don’t care about our country’s situation. It shows how selfish they are.),” said Malaya.
The NDFP on Wednesday said the underground communist movement sees no clear basis yet to reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire President Rodrigo Duterte declared on Wednesday as government focused resources towards containing the outbreak.
Exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison said the communist movement doubts the sincerity of the government’s ceasefire declaration.
“The NDFP is not assured and satisfied that the reciprocal unilateral ceasefires are based on national unity against [coronavirus disease 2019] (COVID-19),” Sison said.
“Unless it receives sufficient assurances from the GRP (Philippine government), 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 said.
Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels took effect Thursday, March 19, and will last until April 15, 2020 as state forces were sent to man borders and enforce guidelines of the Luzon-wide lockdown.
Meanwhile, Duterte has included former terrorists as beneficiaries of the government’s reintegration program, according to a document released by Malacañang on Thursday.
Previously, only former rebels who were members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines were eligible for the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
E-CLIP beneficiaries are entitled to financial assistance, shelter, education, healthcare and legal assistance.
“There is a need to expand the coverage of the E-CLIP to facilitate the reintegration to civilian life of other rebels who have similarly chosen to lay down their arms and become productive and law-abiding members of society,” Duterte said in his Administrative Order 25.
Covered by the order are former members of the Abu Sayyaf group, Maute group and other violent extremist groups, as may be identified by the inter-agency task force, who have surfaced starting July 1, 2016, as well as qualified beneficiaries./Stacy Ang