NPA not honoring COVID-19 ceasefire, says AFP

MANILA – Despite their pronouncements of a unilateral ceasefire starting March 26 up to April 15 in wake of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, the New People’s Army (NPA) has obviously no intention to comply with the truce as their forces attacked military personnel in Rodriguez, Rizal on Saturday.

“NPA has made it clear that they will not honor their ceasefire declaration at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 28,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. said in a statement on Sunday.

The NPA, an armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), declared the ceasefire in response to the government’s declaration of unilateral ceasefire effective March 19 to April 15 so that it can fully focused on containing Covid-19 outbreak.

A firefight at Sitio Malasya Uyungan in Brgy Puray, Rodriguez, Rizal broke out between 30 NPA members and troops from the 2nd Infantry Division (ID) who are in the area doing community work, Santos said.

“One enemy was killed and we were also able to seize one M-16 rifle, one grenade, and one rifle grenade. Though we suspect more losses from the enemy side considering the amount of blood stains left in the encounter site. One of our soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice while two others were wounded in this encounter,” he added.

Santos said the botched attack against military personnel was part of futile NPA attempt to project relevance and power on their 51st founding anniversary which falls on March 29.

“They were planning to celebrate their anniversary on March 29 with a bang,” he added.

Santos also said this unprovoked attack belies the NPA’s so-called “humanitarian principles” and expose the exploitative nature of their ceasefire declaration.

“Unfortunately for them, our troops on proactive defense nationwide are ready and are expecting such treachery,” he added.

He said latest defeat by the communist rebels should teach that as the AFP mobilizes to contain the Covid-19 threat, it will not back down against groups or individuals planning to disrupt the peace.

As this developed, he lauded members of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, under the 2nd ID for their successful operations that led to the surrender of 40 NPA terrorists last March.

“The surrender marks the rebel group’s more than 50 years of failed revolution as they continue to lose their mass base support due to their dwindling numbers,” Santos said.

Led by 2nd ID commander Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., the unit, together with the Philippine National Police, successfully carried out the operations in General Nakar, Quezon, and Kalayaan and Sta. Rosa municipalities in Laguna.

“Those who surrendered brought along with them 14 assorted high-powered firearms, ammunition, other materiel and documents,” Santos said.

He added that this significant accomplishment is a result of the combined community support programs of the AFP and PNP coupled with sustained vigilance amidst the current fight against the spread of Covid-19.

“This is all in support to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that promotes a whole of nation and whole of government approach to achieve lasting peace and security in the country,” Santos said.

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