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Truce extension with NPA depends on inputs from armed conflict TF —Palace

The extension of the nationwide unilateral ceasefire of the government with communist rebels amid the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 will depend on President Rodrigo's discussion with the National Task Force on Ending Local Armed Conflict.

Malacañang made this remark on Sunday after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ordered the New People's Army (NPA) to extend the nationwide ceasefire for another 15 days, until April 30.

"The call for peace is everyone's desire and it has become more urgent in the present state of calamity and public health emergency," said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement.

"On whether the government would extend the unilateral ceasefire, this matter is something the National Task Force on Ending Local Armed Conflict can discuss with the President," he added.

Duterte had declared a truce with the CPP until April 15 amid the COVID-19 crisis so that the "swift provision of public health assistance goes unimpeded."

The CPP also declared a unilateral ceasefire as a “gesture towards national unity and based on humanitarian principles in the context of the serious public emergency.”

But Malacañang expressed dismay over  the NPA's violations if its truce declaration "in the form of violent armed encounters with government troops."

"They even forcibly seized relief goods last April 7 intended for Barangay Guinmayohan residents in Balangiga, Eastern Samar, affected by the coronavirus disease 2019," Roque said.

The CPP denied the said incident, noting that the AFP has been resorting to outright lies and perverse propaganda amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

But the Armed Forces of the Philippines maintained the veracity of the the military report on the incident.

Apart from extending the nationwide ceasefire, the CPP also reiterated its call for the urgent release of all political prisoners and for declaring a general amnesty as well as the resumption of the NDFP-GRP peace negotiations. —Erwin Colcol/LBG, GMA News