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article imagePhilippine President declares ceasefire in battle with NPA

By Ken Hanly     Mar 20, 2020 in World
The Philippines are backing away from their long lasting war against the communist New People's Army (NPA) this week due to concerns about the war's effect on the spread of the coronavirus.
Philippine President orders a unilateral ceasefire
Rodrigo Duterte
the Philippine President ordered both police and military to cease all offensive against the New People's Army beginning on Thursday March 19 and lasting through April15. He urged the NPA to respond in kind. The NPA a Maoist group founded in March of 1969 has been trying to overthrow the Philippine government by armed struggle as well as political means for generations now. It controls some areas of the countryside.
Philiippine Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano told the national police to shift to a defensive posture. He also urged the NPA to respond by declaring a ceasefire also. Ano said: “We call on them to be a part of the solution in fighting our common enemy, the coronavirus."
Peace efforts so far have failed
There have been several periods in which there have been peace talks. In 2016 there was an effort by the Netherlands to get peace talks going. Each side accused the other of being responsible for the breakdown of the talks. The Duterte ceasefire might perhaps provide some impetus to restart talks. Even if peace talks are not restarted at least the spread of the coronavirus may be slowed and fewer Filipinos will be casualties either of the war or the virus.
Though Duterte has often criticized the rebels he has also often given signs that he would be willing to resume negotiations with them. The Philippine military has estimated the group's fighters to number less that 5,000 nationwide. However, the NPA is the armed wing of the Philippine Communist Party and through various front groups has considerable political influence in some areas.
The coronavirus in the Philippines
In total there are 217 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Philippines. The north is under quarantine to try and prevent the virus from spreading beyond that area. Manila the capital is at present closed to land sea and air travel.
The Philippines has 217 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and has quarantined the country’s north to try to prevent it spreading beyond that area. Manila is currently closed to land, sea, and air travel.
More about Npa, President Duterte, Philippine civil war
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