CPP vows no offensives vs soldiers conducting COVID-19 relief duties
The New People's Army marked its 51st anniversary on March 29, 2020.
Photo courtesy of Visayas Today/Nonoy Espina

CPP vows no offensives vs soldiers conducting COVID-19 relief duties

Artemio Dumlao (Philstar.com) - March 30, 2020 - 4:27pm

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines disputed government claims that it had planned an attack on troops in Rodriguez, Rizal over the weekend, adding no operations will be launched against soldiers during a declared ceasefire.

Marco Valbuena, chief of the CPP Central Committee information bureau said "the claim that the NPA unit was planning an attack is baseless," citing Armed Forces of the Philippines reports that the clash on March 28 "was an armed encounter which broke out when troops under the 2nd [Infantry Division] carried out patrol operations mounted by the local AFP unit."

A soldier and a communist rebel were killed in the gunbattle.

The Palace on Sunday condemned the supposed attack "in the face of a declaration of ceasefire on both sides and in the midst of an emergency health crisis."

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo Panelo said it showed the rebels are insincere about the ceasefire and have a "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.

Valbuena insisted that "all units of the (NPA) will continue to uphold the ceasefire declaration of the CPP Central Committee in order to give full play to efforts to extend public health service to the people amid the COVID-19 pandemic."

He vowed "the NPA will not mount armed actions against military, police, paramilitary and other armed agents attached to the [Government of the Republic of the Philippines]," though "they will, remain alert against offensive actions launched by AFP units."

The CPP specifically assured soldiers that "they will not be attacked during the ceasefire period especially if they are conducting public health activities in relation to efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19."

Valbuena urged government soldiers "to concentrate on COVID-19 operations and refrain from conducting anti-NPA patrol operations which may result in armed contact with nearby NPA units." 

"[A]t this time, the Filipino people need all the help they can get to surmount the threat of COVID-19."

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 novel coronavirus disease and government quarantines to curb its spread.

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.

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