The clash reportedly ensued after citizens informed the Army of the presence of NPA members in the barangay.
Philstar.com, file
Palace condemns alleged NPA violation of ceasefire
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - March 29, 2020 - 3:41pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Sunday condemned the alleged attack by the communist New People's Army (NPA) on soldiers in Rizal, saying it proved that the rebels are not sincere in declaring a ceasefire during the quarantine period.

A soldier and a rebel were killed after Army troops and NPA members clashed in Barangay Puray in Rodriguez, Rizal on Saturday.

The firefight happened on the third day of the ceasefire declared by communists to ensure the unimpeded delivery of assistance to people affected by the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The ceasefire declared by the communists started last March 26 and will end on April 15. They reciprocated the ceasefire declaration by the government, which took effect last March 19 and will also lapse on April 15.

The clash reportedly ensued after citizens informed the Army of the presence of NPA members in the barangay.

"We strongly condemn in the strongest terms the NPA attack on our soldiers while the latter were doing community work in Barangay Puray, Rodriguez, Rizal in the face of a declaration of ceasefire on both sides and in the midst of an emergency health crisis," presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said the attack showed the rebels are insincere about the ceasefire as well as their "blatant disregard" for the welfare of Filipinos.

During ceasefires, units of the military and the NPA suspend offensive operations but remain on alert in case of attacks.

Panelo said the military troops' response to the attack had demonstrated their preparedness against what he described as "purveyors of hate and anarchy" even if they are also enforcing COVID-19 measures.

The military and the police have been assisting agencies in implementing the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, which started last March 17 and will end on April 13.

The lockdown was intended to contain the spread of COVID-19, which has infected more than 1,000 persons in the country.

NPA told to help stop spead of COVID-19

The Communist Party of the Philippines, in a statement on the NPA's founding anniversary on Sunday, made no mention of the clash in Rizal.

The CPP Central Committee instead told the NPA to join a public health campaign to prevents the spread of COVID-19.

It said the NPA, especially its medical units, to "give special attention to the elderly and pregnant women, help care those who have been infected and promote personal hygiene and community sanitation."

It added: "In fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the Filipino people must draw lessons and inspiration from the victories and achievements they have accumulated through collective action." 

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