MANILA – Philippine Army (PA) commander, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay on Thursday reminded troops to exercise caution and stay alert against attacks by communist rebels on their humanitarian missions in wake of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
“Remain vigilant and alert against our enemies who does not respect our humanitarian mission,” he said in a statement.
Gapay made this pronouncement after New People’s Army (NPA) rebels attacked troopers from the 1st Infantry Division conducting operations in support of Covid-19 containment efforts at Barangay Balagon, Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay on Wednesday.
Reports added that 11 enlisted personnel of the unit were conducting an information awareness campaign when communist terrorists from Front Flex A and Front 13 harassed them, triggering a 20-minute firefight which ended in the one dead rebel and recovery of two M-16AI automatic rifles, medical paraphernalia, and other personal belongings.
“To the operating troops of 1st ID (Infantry Division), I commend your good leadership and teamwork that repelled the rebel groups from inflicting harm to the people,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier declared a unilateral ceasefire with the communist movement from March 19 to April 15.
A few days later, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) 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)