Thursday, April 16, 2020

NPA rebels urged to surrender amid health crisis

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 16, 2020): NPA rebels urged to surrender amid health crisis (By Che Palicte)

Maj. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command. (File photo courtesy of Eastmincom)

The chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) has called on the communist New People’s Army (NPA) fighters to surrender amid the crisis brought about by the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In a statement on Wednesday, Maj. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., said it is better for NPA rebels to come down from the mountains to escape starvation.

Faustino assured said that upon surrender, the rebels can immediately avail the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and other financial support programs.

Surrendering, he said, is more ideal than "harassing communities and grabbing their relief goods."

"We have a caring government that attends to the need of every citizen of this country in times of crisis," Faustino said.

The Eastmincom chief issued the challenge after government troops figured in a series of encounters with the rebels early this week after residents in Agusan del Norte and Davao Oriental complained that NPA fighters are harassing them for food.

Early this month, residents in a village in Pantukan, Davao De Oro, also reported that the rebels had resorted to extortion in order to feed themselves, forcing the government forces to respond.

Eastmincom noted that the NPA attacks came despite the reciprocal ceasefire declared by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) on March 29, days after President Rodrigo Duterte called for a ceasefire with the NPA so that government forces can assist health workers in containing Covid-19.

"Let us continue to support the local government initiatives and programs to prevent the spread of the virus and mitigate its social and economic impact without compromising the security of our communities from possible terroristic acts," Faustino said.

The CPP-NPA-NDF 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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