The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) accused the Rodrigo Duterte government of violating its own unilateral ceasefire declaration following an encounter between the Philippine Army (PA) and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Rodriguez, Rizal last March 28, Saturday.
CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said in a statement issued today, March 30, that based on Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reports themselves, the armed clash broke out when 80th Infantry Battalion troops of the PA’s 2nd Infantry Division carried out patrol operations.
An AFP conflict alert report was sent to Kodao by CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison, purported to be obtained by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines from sources within the military proving it was the aggressor in the incident in Barangay Puray of the said town.
The report said that a team led by one Staff Sargeant Angot conducted community defense patrol at the vicinity of Sitio Malasya Uyungan where they encountered around 30 NPA fighters at around three o’clock in the afternoon.
The report said the clash lasted for about 40 minutes that resulted in the killing of a government trooper and the wounding of two others.
The killed soldier was a corporal while the two injured were a sergeant and a private.
The report claimed one rebel fighter was killed and that the government soldiers recovered an M16 rifle, a rifle grenade, a jungle pack with personal belongings, two empty bandoliers, a NPA flag, documents, medical paraphernalia, and water gallons.
The report added that the team recommended to “move forces to block the possible withdrawal routes of the rebels.”
The unit also requested an helicopter for an immediate evacuation of the casualties.
In a statement, the AFP’s Public Affairs Office said the soldiers were in the vicinity to conduct “community work,” contrary to what the report indicated that its unit conducted the patrol “acting on the information from concerned citizens.”
The NPA for its part did not confirm that it suffered a casualty in its statement.
Valbuena however said the AFP’s claim that the concerned NPA unit was planning an attack was baseless.
He said all NPA units will continue to uphold the CPP’s ceasefire declaration “in order to give full play to efforts to extend public health service to the people amid the Covid-19 (corona virus disease) pandemic.”
The CPP’s Central Committee declared a unilateral ceasefire declaration last March 24 in response to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ appeal that all warring parties temporarily lay down their arms to focus on the global fight against Covid-19. It is effective until April 15 when the government’s own truce order expires.
The Duterte government declared its unilateral ceasefire order last March 18 effective 00:00 hour of March 19 to 24:00 hours of April 15.
Valbuena clarified that the NPA will not mount armed actions against government military, police, paramilitary and other armed agents but will remain alert against offensive actions launched by AFP units.
“The Party assures AFP 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 said.
The CPP spokesperson urged AFP units to concentrate on Covid-19 operations and refrain from conducting anti-NPA patrol operations which may result in armed contact with nearby NPA units.
“At this time, the Filipino people need all the help they can get to surmount the threat of Covid-19,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)