Focus turned to ‘war’ on COVID-19

Philippine National Police
Philippine police man a checkpoint on the border between Quezon city and Manila districts on March 18, 2020, as the government imposed measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered about half the country's population to stay home for the next month in a drastic bid on March 16 to curb the rising number of new coronavirus cases. If fully enforced, the sweeping order would mean most of the 55 million people on the main island of Luzon, which includes the capital Manila, would be housebound.

PHILIPPINE National Police chief General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa on Wednesday ordered the suspension of all police offensives against the New People’s Army following a declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Duterte government effective midnight Wednesday until midnight of April 15 to boost the campaign to contain the deadly COVID-19 virus.

“In full support to the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), Philippine National Police will suspend all tactical police operations against forces of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) effective midnight tonight until midnight of 15 April 2020,” said Gen. Gamboa in a press statement.

The PNP chief said that effective midnight Wednesday, all national, regional, provincial and district police maneuver units engaged in internal security operations have been placed on defensive posture and have shifted operations to disaster response and public safety mode to enforce the enhanced Luzon-wide community quarantine to stop the spread of COVID-19 upon the government’s declaration of a national state of calamity.

“This cessation of police offensive operations against the CPP-NPA will allow PNP maneuver units to be fully utilized for quarantine control and general public safety operations to ensure swift and immediate assistance to patients and persons under investigation and monitoring (PUI/PUM), including military and police personnel; and the unimpeded movement of health workers, medical supplies, and other humanitarian assistance; including the movement of medical and food products; and consumer goods to the local market,” said Gen. Gamboa.

However, he said that notwithstanding a ceasefire, all PNP units across the country have been ordered to maintain defensive vigilance against possible hostile actions by armed threat groups appropriate police response to which is authorized under the Police Operational Procedures. 

He said that the PNP Directorate for Operations headed by Major Gen. Emmanuel Luis D. Licup has cascaded the instructions to all PNP units nationwide particularly in the Luzon regions for strict implementation. The PNP Command Center will monitor compliance of all PNP units with this directive,” he added.

“We remain hopeful that the CPP-NPA-NDF will reciprocate the government’s gesture of good faith in the interest of public welfare and peace,” Gen. Gamboa said.