THE Palace on Friday slammed the exiled founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Jose Maria C. Sison for not reciprocating a unilateral ceasefire with the government after this was declared last Wednesday, adding that the exiled militant rebel should show “patriotism” in agreeing with this peace.

Mr. Sison said on Thursday that the government’s call for a ceasefire because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) does not assure the rebels and he called it “premature” and “insincere.”

“At a time when all Filipinos, regardless of class, religion, or ideology, are united to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 in the country, Mr. Sison, in these times of a national health emergency and calamity, would rather have a hostile environment where Filipinos argue with, if not kill, each other,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said.

Mr. Panelo added, “This circumstance is a golden opportunity for Mr. Sison to show his patriotism by extending his hands for peace, for the sake of the Filipino people.”

The unilateral ceasefire was declared after President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced an “enhanced community quarantine” covering the entire Luzon since community-transmission of the virus.

The quarantine calls for the suspension of most work and public transportation and requires everyone to undergo home quarantine unless they are health frontliners or are from exempted sectors that deliver basic goods and services.

Mr. Sison called the Luzon Lockdown “militarist,” adding that the quarantine is not meant to address concerns on the virus but to “intimidate the people, suppress democratic rights, commit human rights violations and prevent the working people from going to their workplaces, and immobilize even the health workers and people who wish to tested and treated for COVID-19 and serious ailments.” — Gillilan M. Cortez