MANILA – Malacañang on Sunday condemned the violation of the ceasefire declaration after a clash broke out between government troops and communist rebels in Barangay Puray in Rodriguez, Rizal on Saturday afternoon.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the attack launched by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) showed their “insincerity” in declaring a ceasefire due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“We strongly condemn in the strongest terms the NPA attack on our soldiers while the latter were doing community work in Barangay Puray, Rodriguez, Rizal in the face of a declaration of ceasefire on both sides and in the midst of an emergency health crisis,” he said in a statement.
He said the communist rebels showed disregard for people’s welfare by placing civilians in danger and disrupting the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in that area.
The attack “unmasked the treacherous character of the NPA” when it declared a ceasefire following the government’s own declaration, he said.
He also praised the country’s armed forces readiness to defend themselves from attacks despite the truce in place.
“That we were able to repulse the NPA’s perfidious armed offensive demonstrates the preparedness of our armed forces against the purveyors of hate and anarchy even as they perform their additional task of assisting in the implementation of the protocols and guidelines established by the government,” he said.
He assured the public that law enforcement authorities are “equipped and ready” to crush any armed attack against soldiers and civilians with “ferocity and might.”
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. said the clash “made it clear” that the NPA will ignore the ceasefire declaration.
“This attack on our people throws away their so-called ‘humanitarian principles’ and expose the exploitative nature of their ceasefire declaration,” Santos said in a statement.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, NPA, from March 19 until April 15.
After initially refusing to reciprocate the ceasefire declared by Duterte, CPP founder Jose Maria Sison announced that they would observe their own truce in response to the call of the United Nations (UN) for an immediate global ceasefire.
However, on Saturday, a soldier and an NPA gunman were killed when a Philippine Army Community Support Program (CSP) Team and communist insurgents clashed in Barangay Puray in Rodriguez, Rizal.
Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division based in Rizal, vowed to continue securing the safety of Filipinos and contain the spread of Covid-19 despite the attack. (PNA)