From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 20, 2020): Top officials condemn attack on soldiers
Top officials of Negros Island yesterday condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) for killing three soldiers of the Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion, and injuring four others in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, Sunday.
“I am deeply dismayed and I condemn the attacks against our soldiers during a humanitarian mission,” Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said.
All 11 members of the House of Representatives from Negros Island also filed a resolution yesterday, strongly condemning what they called the deplorable act of the NPA.
“We recognize the heroism of all our soldiers, who are among the selfless frontliners in the fight against COVID-19 and for keeping the peace in Negros Island,” they said.
The soldiers were conducting an outer security patrol during the distribution of the Social Amelioration Program cash grants in Sitio Tugas, Brgy. Carabalan, Himamaylan City, when a 30-minute firefight ensued after the rebels set off an improvised explosive device and threw grenades at the soldiers, Lacson said.
The governor called for the cooperation of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA as the province and the rest of the world battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The war right now is not among us Negrenses and Filipinos, the real war is against the unseen virus that is out to attack all of us, regardless of our political beliefs,” he said.
“The entire world, the entire human race is in the midst of a pandemic right now. COVID-19 and the efforts to address it is not a socio-political issue or concern - this is a human race survival concern,” he said.
The virus knows no gender, nationality, social status, political beliefs, he pointed out.
“Unless all sectors of society unite to defeat this common enemy, it is us, it is the human race that will succumb and cave in defeat to COVID-19,” he said.
Lacson called on the rebels not to allow the pandemic to diminish progress to attain real and lasting peace.
Representatives Gerardo Valmayor Jr., Leo Rafael Cueva, Francisco Benitez, Juliet Marie Ferrer, Ma. Lourdes Arroyo and Genaro Alvarez of Negros Occidental, Greg Gasataya of Bacolod City, Stephen Paduano of Abang Lingkod, and Jocelyn Limkaichong, Manuel Sagarbarria, and Arnolfo Teves of Negros Oriental filed a joint resolution in the House condemning the attack.
“Confirmed reports indicate that the government forces were ambushed — the Army vehicle suffered from a landmine blast and grenades were thrown at the soldiers, and it was not an encounter as claimed by the NPA spokesman, who also said they did not suffer any casualty after the firefight,” the representatives said.
The solons said they “condemn the treacherous and cowardly attack” against the soldiers who were in the area to assist in the distribution of SAP grants to beneficiaries affected by COVID-19.
They also expressed their deepest sympathy to the families of the fallen soldiers.
Killed were 2Lt Ralf Amante Abibico, Cpl Joel Nobleza, and Pfc Carl Venice Bustamante, while injured were Cpl John Cris Laus, PFC John Paul Geonzon, Cpl Lismer Jade Tumayao, and PFC Alexis Mepranum.