Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Negros officials denounce NPA attack amid Covid-19 crisis

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 21, 2020): Negros officials denounce NPA attack amid Covid-19 crisis (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

AMBUSH SITE. The site where government troops were reportedly ambushed by communist-terrorists of the New People's Army in Sitio Tugas, Barangay Carabalan in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental on Sunday (April 19, 2020). Three soldiers of the Philippine Army's 94th Infantry Battalion were killed while four others were wounded. (Photo courtesy of 303rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army)

Government officials in Negros Island have denounced the continuing atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (NPA) amid the Negrenses’ battle against the 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.

Three soldiers were killed while four others were injured when troops of the Philippine Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion
clashed with the communist-terrorists in Sitio Tugas, Barangay Carabalan in Himamaylan City on Sunday.

The troops led by 2nd Lt. Ralf Amante Abibico, who was among the casualties, were conducting outer security patrol during the distribution of the social amelioration grant in the area.

When they learned about the presence of NPA rebels extorting food and money from residents, they pursued them. As the soldiers were closing in, the communist-terrorists set off an improvised explosive device and lobbed grenades at them.

Two of Abibico’s men, Cpl. Joel Nobleza and Pfc. Carl Venice Bustamante, were also killed.

Lacson said before Covid-19 struck, the government has been making progress in the peace process with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70, which institutionalizes the "whole of nation" approach in ending the local communist armed conflict through the creation of a national task force.

“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.

Meanwhile, all the 11 Negrense legislators in the House of Representatives also condemned the violence against the government forces perpetrated by the CPP-NPA.

“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.

They 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.”

The lawmakers added that as they express their deepest sympathies to the families of the fallen soldiers, they also recognize the heroism of all soldiers who are among the selfless front-liners in the fight against Covid-19, and for keeping the peace in Negros Island.

The resolution was supported by Negros Occidental representatives Gerardo Valmayor Jr. (1st District), Leo Rafael Cueva (2nd District), Francisco Benitez (3rd District), Juliet Marie Ferrer (4th District), Ma. Lourdes Arroyo (5th District), Genaro Alvarez Jr. (6th District), Greg Gasataya (Lone District of Bacolod City), and Stephen Paduano of the Abang Lingkod Party-list.

Those from Negros Oriental are Jocelyn Limkaichong (1st District), Manuel Sagarbarria (2nd District), and Arnolfo Teves Jr. (3rd District).

The NPA, which 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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