(Source of preview image: ndfp.org)

Malacañang on Tuesday hailed communist leader Jose Ma. Sison’s recommendation for the rebels to declare a ceasefire amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

President Rodrigo Duterte on March 15 declared a unilateral ceasefire, allowing soldiers to focus on pandemic response.

“At this crucial time, the Filipino people deserve and need a safe and peaceful environment where there is unimpeded movement of health workers, medical supplies, food and other needs and services, in view of the current state of calamity and public health emergency. We therefore welcome the cooperation of all, including those in the Left, to realize our goal of absolute peace during these times,” Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

“As Mr. Sison proposes concord to be realized during this global health crisis, it is also our hope that their group’s armed component on the ground would show genuine sincerity in laying down their arms and not use the occasion to mobilize their forces. The Palace looks forward that they would make good — and stay true to — their words,” he added.

But Sison on Tuesday said his recommendation was in response to the call of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a “global ceasefire between warring parties for the common purpose of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He said the communist negotiating arm, the National Democratic Front, earlier considered Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire “bogus” and refused to cooperate.

“The [NDF] has also refused to reciprocate the bogus unilateral ceasefire declaration of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) in order to avoid appearing as directly condoning and becoming complicit in the criminal culpabilities of the Duterte regime for allowing the Covid-19 to spread nationwide since January, for making no preparations against the pandemic and for making lockdowns on communities and yet failing to provide mass testing and treatment of the sick, food assistance and compensation for those prevented from work,” he said. (PressONE.ph)