VERA FILES FACT CHECK: After supporting call for ‘global ceasefire’ amid pandemic, Duterte says truce with ‘Reds’ is ‘dead’

In just four days, President Rodrigo Duterte went from expressing support to the proposal in the United Nations (UN) for a global ceasefire during the pandemic to killing any possibility of a truce with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for the rest of his term.


In between the reports of his Cabinet secretaries on the ongoing health crisis during his Dec. 7 public address, Duterte, referring to “Reds,” said:

“There will be no ceasefire ever again under my term, under my term…pagka-presidente (as president). For all intents and purposes, ‘yung (the) ceasefire is dead. Wala na ‘yon (That’s done)…matagal na ‘yon (for a long time)…when I walked away from the [peace] talks because we could not understand each other.”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, Talk to the People of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Dec. 7, 2020, watch from 1:02:06 to 1:03:06

The chief executive further said, along with the ceasefire, there would be no more peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) and New People’s Army (NPA), the CPP’s political arm and the armed wing, respectively, and all its supposed “legal fronts.”


In his taped address before a special session of the UN General Assembly (GA) on Dec. 3, the president reiterated the country’s support to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ call for a global ceasefire on armed conflicts.

Duterte said:

“The Philippine support of [the] Secretary General’s report for a global ceasefire is most welcome and appreciated. The Philippine[s] wants to ensure the swift and unimpeded provision of medical care for all Filipinos, especially the most vulnerable.”

Source: RTVMalacanang, Remarks for the 31st Special Session of the UNGA in Response to COVID 19 12/3/2020, Dec. 3, 2020, watch from 3:13 to 4:11

He added, however:

“Yet combatting terrorism is just as urgent…now as it was before the pandemic. In my country, this fight is about protecting life while preserving the democratic values we have restored without violence.”

In the same special session, Guterres echoed his earlier appeal to “silence the guns by the end of the year” to allow countries to focus on “fighting” the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The UN secretary general first said this on March 23, which the Philippines, along with 52 other countries, “fully support[ed]” in order to “focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

Prior to this, Duterte declared a “unilateral ceasefire” with the CPP-NPA-NDF on March 16 — when the enhanced community quarantine was first imposed in Luzon — from March 19 to April 15 to make way for the government’s pandemic response. The group reciprocated this a week later, after the UN called for a halt in hostilities.

But following reports of clashes between state forces and the NPA, the chief executive, in several public addresses, has since singled out communist rebels as the “number one threat” to peace in the country, and went as far as threatening to declare martial law and issuing a kill order for “all of them (rebels),” including members of their “legal [fronts].” (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte flip-flops on communist threat, makes wrong claim on vaccines; VERA FILES FACT CHECK: How Duterte’s threat to declare martial law escalated amid the COVID-19 crisis)

On Dec. 3, the same day Duterte spoke at the UNGA special session, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it will not recommend to the president a “holiday ceasefire” with the “Communist Terrorist Group,” citing the latter’s “incapacity for sincerity.”

The president has declared the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group in December 2017 through Proclamation No. 374. However, it has not been outlawed pending its proscription by the Court of Appeals, in accordance with the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: The dangers of red-tagging under the Anti-Terrorism Law)

Duterte, who once labelled himself a “socialist” and the country’s “first left-leaning president,” has see-sawed on pursuing talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF since the beginning of his term. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte blows hot and cold with the Reds)

This, despite his former spokesperson Salvador Panelo, concurrently chief presidential legal counsel, claiming that the president had “always kept a window open” to talk peace with the communist rebels. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Panelo falsely claims Duterte has always been open to peace talks with Reds)



Presidential Communications Operations Office, Talk to the People of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Dec. 7, 2020

RTVMalacanang, Remarks for the 31st Special Session of the UNGA in Response to COVID 19 12/3/2020, Dec. 3, 2020

United Nations, COVID-19 recovery, focus of UN General Assembly special session, Dec. 3, 2020

United Nations, COVID-19: UN chief calls for global ceasefire to focus on ‘the true fight of our lives’, March 23, 2020

Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York official Twitter account, PH joins 52 other countries in support of @UN Secretary-General @antonioguterres’ call for an immediate global ceasefire in light of the #COVID19 pandemic @teddyboylocsin @DFAPHL, March 31, 2020

United Nations, Update on the Secretary-General’s Appeal for a Global Ceasefire, April 2, 2020

United Nations, “To silence the guns, we must raise the voices for peace”, n.d., Accessed on Dec. 9, 2020

RTVMalacanang, Message / Meeting with the IATF-EID (Speech) 3/16/2020, March 16, 2020

Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, On the government’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire, March 18, 2020

Rappler, CPP-NPA declare ceasefire after U.N. call for peace amind coronavirus pandemic, March 24, 2020

CNN Philippines, Reds concede to UN’s call for ceasefire, March 24, 2020

Manila Bulletin, CPP orders nationwide ceasefire in response to UN’s call, March 25, 2020

RTVMalacanang, Kumusta Po Mahal Kong Kababayan? | Meeting on COVID-19 Concerns and Talk to the People on COVID-19, June 22, 2020

RTVMalacanang, IATF-EID Meeting and Talk to the People 4/23/2020, April 23, 2020

Armed Forces of the Philippines official Twitter account, “AFP Statement fr Spokesperson @att_edarevalo re Christmas truce…,” Dec. 3, 2020

Official Gazette, Proclamation No. 374

Official Gazette, Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Dec. 16, 2016 — Speech of President Rodrigo Duterte during the Meeting with the Filipino Community in Singapore, The Max Pavillion and Hall 9, Dec. 16, 2016



(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)