The New People's Army (NPA) has extended its ceasefire until at least Thursday, April 30, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the country. On Wednesday, April 15, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced it ordered the NPA to maintain the truce to "prioritize the fight against the pandemic." During the ceasefire, the rebel group will not conduct offensive military actions against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and other government security forces.
President Rodrigo Duterte had previously declared a unilateral truce with the communist group until April 15. As of Friday, April 17, it is unclear if Duterte will also extend the government ceasefire. Both sides have accused each other of breaching the truce since it was declared on March 19. Isolated clashes between security forces and the rebels are possible over the near term.
Over the past three years, the CPP-NPA and central government have engaged in several rounds of peace talks to end the 50-year long communist insurgency. However, both sides have been accused of violating previous ceasefires.
Individuals in the southern Philippines and Manila are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for militant and criminal activity, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
As a reminder, several Western governments advise against travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago due to the risk of kidnapping and terrorism.