Roque: More calls to end ceasefire with Reds amid violations

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 20) — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there is a growing call to end a temporary truce with communist rebels, despite the group's own decision to extend its ceasefire with the government amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"Ang alam ko, maraming nagre-recommend na huwag nang ituloy 'yan, pero hindi pa nagdedesisyon ang Presidente [What I know is there are several recommendations against continuing that ceasefire, but the President has not decided yet]," Roque said in a virtual media briefing Monday.

READ: Duterte declares unilateral ceasefire with CPP-NPA to focus on COVID-19 fight

President Rodrigo Duterte has not yet decided if he will reciprocate by also extending his ceasefire order. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced last week that they will "cease and desist" from launching attacks until April 30, the last day of the enhanced community quarantine.

Duterte had asked the communist rebels for a ceasefire just before the Luzon lockdown took effect. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines recommended a unilateral ceasefire in late March, but it was supposedly in response to the United Nations' call for a global truce.

Roque cited three incidents where the CPP and New People's Army did not honor their own pledge. Rebels reportedly seized relief goods meant for residents of Eastern Samar. He also reported an encounter in Rodriguez, Rizal and a hacking incident involving an indigenous tribe in Surigao.

"Identified ang mga NPA na gumawa niyan. Parang wala pong good faith itong CPP-NPA at bagama’t wala pang desisyon ang Presidente, ang tanong natin ay: Bakit kasi nagdedeklara ng unilateral ceasefire na hindi naman nila sinusunod mismo?" Roque asked.

[Translation: Members of the NPA have been identified to be involved in those cases. It seems that the CPP-NPA is not acting on good faith. Even if the President has not made a decision yet, the question is: Why are they declaring a unilateral ceasefire when they can't follow it themselves?]

Roque added that he will give an update on the President's decision on the ceasefire extension, which will also depend on the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Duterte walked away from peace talks with communist rebels in 2017 as both sides accused each other of ceasefire violations. The two panels are considering returning to the negotiating table, but Duterte and CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison could not agree on contentious issues, including the venue for the meetings.