NPA rebels killed three soldiers and injured four others when they clashed with the Philippine Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Carabalan in Himamaylan City, Negros, on Sunday.
The Negros Island government denounced the attack of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (NPA) amid the Negrenses’ fight against the pandemic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“I am deeply dismayed, and I condemn the attacks against our soldiers during a humanitarian mission,” Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said in a statement on Monday.
2nd Lt. Ralf Amante Abibico, who also died in the attack, lead the troops in securing the area where the social amelioration grant was being distributed.
Abibico’s team pursued the NPA rebels after they learned they were extorting food and money from residents. As they were closing in, the terrorists threw an improvised explosive device and lobbed grenades at them.
Cpl. Joel Nobleza and Pfc. Carl Venice Bustamante also died in the attack.
NPA attacks troops, kills 3 soldiers in Negros
Lacson said before the COVID-19 outbreak, the local government has been making progress in the peace process following President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70. The order institutionalizes the “whole-nation approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace, creating a national task force to local communist armed conflict, and directing the adoption of a national peace framework.”
“The entire world, the entire human race, is in the midst of (a) pandemic right now. COVID-19 and the efforts to address it are not a socio-political issue or concern. This is human race survival. Let us not allow this pandemic to diminish our progress to attain real and lasting peace,” he added.
The 11 Negrense congressmen, meanwhile, also condemned the attack of CPP-NPA against the government forces.
“We condemn the treacherous and cowardly attack against the soldiers who were in the area to assist in the distribution of the social amelioration (grant) to beneficiaries affected by COVID-19, a clear violation of the unilateral ceasefire agreement,” the congressmen said in a resolution passed on Monday afternoon.
The lawmakers also said that “confirmed reports indicate that the government forces were ambushed (as) the army vehicle suffered from a landmine blast and grenades were thrown at the soldiers. It was not an encounter as claimed by the NPA spokesman.”
On March 18, the government declared a ceasefire with the NPA as the country prioritizes fighting the deadly virus. The Communist Party of the Philippines agreed on March 25.