Tuesday, April 14, 2020

E. Samar town condemns NPA for 'confiscating' food aid

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 14, 2020): E. Samar town condemns NPA for 'confiscating' food aid (By Sarwell Meniano)

RELIEF GOODS. Local government workers prepare for the delivery of food packs to villages in Balangiga, Eastern Samar affected by a health crisis in this April 4, 2020 photo. The local government of Balangiga town on Monday (April 13, 2020) condemned the New People’s Army for “confiscating” relief goods from poor families in a far-flung village. (Photo courtesy of Balangiga local government)

The local government of Balangiga, Eastern Samar has condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) for “confiscating” relief goods from poor families in a far-flung village affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Resolution No. 1 Series of 2020 dated April 13 reinforces the Municipal Council’s 2019 declaration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – NPA – National Democratic Front (NDF) “persona non-grata”.

“The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) 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 a portion of their relief (half sack rice) to the NPA,”
the resolution read.

It added that the Philippine Army, in a press release on April 7, said
about 30 NPA rebels “robbed” the relief goods meant for residents of Barangay Guinmaayohan.

A few days after, the local government issued a statement denying such an incident, saying the distribution of food assistance was orderly and not marred by any robbery.

“During the municipal peace and order council meeting held on the 13th day of April 2020, AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) officials attended and clarified the press release made last week,” the resolution added.

Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso, Army’s 8th Infantry Division commander, in a text message to PNA late Monday, said rebels took some relief goods after and not during the distribution.

He said there are efforts of anti-government groups to “create a wedge” between the local government and the military by posting on social media the conflicting reports.

“This is distracting us from the real issue. I already talked to Balangiga Mayor Randy Graza to clarify the issue. Village officials and residents attest to the NPA acts. That should be our focus and has to condemn by all of us,” Diñoso told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Also on April 7, about 15 rebels also forcibly took food items from residents of Lakandula village in Las Navas, Northern Samar triggering a firefight that resulted in the wounding of a soldier, he added.

The military asked the communist terrorist group not to take away the food supply intended for the people. To avail of government assistance during a crisis, rebels are encouraged to return to their respective communities.

Meanwhile, the Palace on Monday condemned in the strongest terms the reported robbing incidents initiated by NPA members in Northern Samar and Eastern Samar, causing a shortage of relief goods for intended beneficiaries.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said they understand that NPA members may also be in need of food or basic commodities, but the same cannot be claimed through violence or threats.

“Resorting to force or duress is unconscionable, especially given the national crisis we are in. We call on those operating outside of the law not to add burden to the people they professed to fight for,” he said.

The CPP-NPA, which has has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.


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