From GMA News Online (Apr 14, 2020): AFP stands firm on reported 'robbing' of relief goods by NPA in Samar (By ANNA FELICIA BAJO)
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) maintained Tuesday the military report about the alleged robbing of relief goods by members of New People's Army (NPA) in Balangiga, Samar was factual.
In a press statement, AFP spokesman Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said the report of the Philippine Army's 8th Infantry Division, led by Major General Pio Diñoso, about the incident was well-validated.
"He maintains that the incident happened and that the town chief executive Mayor Graza, in a recent development, admits that indeed the NPAs seized part of the relief goods intended for his constituents," he said.
Arevalo mentioned that the Sangguniang Bayan even passed a resolution denouncing the act of the communist rebels.
"The document will also attest to the truthfulness of military reports relating to the incident. Barangay officials, for their part, also confirm the detestable acts of these terrorists in taking away what their neighbors badly need as well," he said.
It was on April 13 when the resolution, condemning the New People's Army and their recent actions made against the residents of Barangay Guinmaayohan by way of relief goods confiscation, was adopted.
"The AFP officials stated that the word 'robbery' or 'forcibly taken' may have been too strong in describing what happened but the fact remains that the residents were forced to give portion of their relief to the NPA," the resolution read.
Last week, the Philippine Army's 8th Infantry Division claimed that more or less 30 suspected members of the NPA went to Sitio Bangon and forcibly took relief goods intended for residents in the area.
The military cited reports of witnesses saying that barangay officials were distributing relief packs to the affected families last April 7 when the communists had allegedly took some of the relief items.
However, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denied the incident, noting that the AFP has been resorting to outright lies and perverse propaganda amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
"There is absolutely no truth to the false information irresponsibly being circulated by the AFP that members of the NPA took away distributed relief goods in some villages in Balangiga, Samar," CPP's chief information officer Marco Valbuena said in a separate statement.
"Even the local barangay captain and police officers interviewed by the media deny that there were such incidents in their areas," he added.
Valbuena claimed the military was just discrediting the NPA’s public health campaign to raise awareness among the public about COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Arevalo ensured that the AFP would be willing to assist local government units in the distribution of relief items, including communist members, provided that the latter will seek aid from the government.
He also said security during the distribution of assistance would be ensured by government forces.
"This is to ensure that the money intended for the people really gets to the beneficiaries and not to unscrupulous groups like the terrorists-extortionists NPA," Arevalo said.