Duterte appeals for global ceasefire amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 4) – President Rodrigo Duterte echoed the call for a global ceasefire as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a taped address to a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the health crisis, Duterte said lawless elements are using the health crisis for their cruel intentions, crippling the ability of governments to respond.

"In many parts of the world, the pandemic has worsened threats to peace and security. The lawless weaponize this health crisis. They leave COVID-19 to wreak its worst on the population," said Duterte in a taped message aired early Friday morning (Philippine time).

The President said fighting terrorism will ensure the swift and unimpeded delivery of medical care to all Filipinos, especially the most vulnerable.

"In my country, this fight is about protecting life while preserving the democratic values we have restored without violence," Duterte added.

During the session, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized that a global ceasefire is vital so that countries can focus their efforts in fighting the virus.

"I echoed this call in my speech to the General Assembly in September and urged new efforts and commitments to silence the guns by the end of the year," Guterres said.

Guterres also urged governments to take concrete steps in ending violence against women and girls around the world.

Duterte's appeal for a global ceasefire came as the Armed Forces of the Philippines announced on Thursday that it will not recommend a holiday truce with communist rebels, who are waging a 50-year armed struggle against the government.

Duterte had previously vowed to crush extremism in Mindanao, after the Abu Sayyaf's twin bombings in Jolo, Sulu last Aug. 24, where at least 15 persons died and 75 were injured.