The Philippines are backing away from an ongoing war against communist forces in the New People’s Army this week because of concern about the coronavirus, and a desire to focus on fighting against the spread of the virus.
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a unilateral ceasefire against the communist group, ordering police and military to stop all offensives against the group starting Thursday and continuing until April 15. He urged the rebels to respond in kind.
The Philippines has been fighting communist groups on and off for generations, though there have been some recent efforts, including a 2016 effort by the Netherlands, to get peace talks going. This ceasefire might help in getting that back on track, but even if not, a ceasefire would prevent further spreading the virus.
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.