'Displaced' NPAs also line up for goods in typhoon-hit Compostela
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - December 20, 2012 - 4:49pm

MANILA, Philippines - Suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) are allegedly taking advantage of the government-declared 18-day Christmas and New Year truce as some of them are spotted lining up for food rations in areas hit by typhoon Pablo in Compostela Valley.

“They (NPAs) are also benefitting from the ongoing food and non-food distribution. We know them but in the spirit of Christmas and in observance of the truce, our troops do not discriminate in the ongoing relief operations,” an Army field officer based in the province said.

Compostela Valley is among the areas in Mindanao where there are a large number of suspected communist rebels. It is also the same province that suffered the most from the typhoon, which killed and displaced hundreds.

Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, 10th Infantry Division commander based in Mawab also in the province, confirmed reports from field operatives that some rebels and their families may be benefitting from the relief operations in Compostela Valley.

Bernardo stressed that soldiers deployed in disaster and relief operations do not discriminate in the distribution of food and clothing and other non-food donations to the storm-affected evacuees.

An Army junior officer whose unit is in the forefront of the government internal security operations in Compostela Valley said "Pablo" also devastated NPA strongholds in the province.

“Their strongholds were also washed out, just like the rest. They’re also heavily affected by the storm but at this time, we do not see them as enemies of the state, but fellow Filipinos who are in need of help,” he said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), in an updated report, said that a total of 711,682 families or 6,243,998 persons, mostly from Davao region, have been displaced by Pablo.

Of this number, 4,522 families or 19,972 persons are still staying in the government-run evacuation centers, while 223,516 families or 959,536 individuals, who already staying outside of the evacuation centers, are still heavily dependent for their daily needs from government and outside help.

The total number of reported casualties, also mostly from Davao Region (Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley) has been recorded to have reached 1,047 while 841 others are still missing.

AN ARMY ARIEL BERNARDO BERNARDO CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR COMPOSTELA VALLEY DAVAO DAVAO ORIENTAL AND COMPOSTELA VALLEY DAVAO REGION INFANTRY DIVISION NATIONAL DISASTER RISK REDUCTION AND MANAGEMENT COUNCIL NEW PEOPLE
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