MANILA – Philippine Army (PA) commander, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay on Thursday lauded government troops for an operation against the communist rebels while doing an information campaign on the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Mulanay, Quezon last Wednesday.
“Congratulations to the troops of the 85th Infantry Battalion of fulfilling their duty of protecting the people from the CNTs’ (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-Terrorists) atrocities. Remain alert and vigilant for at this time we are combating two enemies – the Covid-19 and terrorists that challenge the security of the people,” Gapay said in a statement.
Reports said the 85th Infantry Battalion, a field unit of the 2nd Infantry Division, was doing an information dissemination drive on Covid-19 in Sitio Acaciahan, Barangay Ilayang Yuni, Mulanay, Quezon when concerned residents reported the presence of NPA rebels engaged in extortion activities in the area.
Shortly after the campaign, troops encountered 20 communist rebels, triggering a firefight which resulted in the death of a rebel and the recovery of an M-16 rifle and a .45 caliber pistol.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier declared a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA from March 19 to April 15.
A few days later, the communist movement declared its own truce with government from March 26 to April 15 in response to the call of United Nations for an immediate global ceasefire to help countries focus on efforts to contain Covid-19.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)