MANILA – A ranking military official on Friday scored Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate call for the government and communist rebels to comply with a United Nations Security Council appeal for a 90-day “humanitarian pause” on worldwide conflicts in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.
Southern Luzon Command chief, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. said the call is hard to believe as the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) terrorists continue to attack government security forces and civilians during ceasefires declared by both groups in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The President has declared a ceasefire at the very start of the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) to which the AFP complied. Yet your NPA allies continued to attack our forces in Samar, Masbate, Rizal, Quezon, Iloilo, Surigao, Davao, and everywhere,” he said. “The NPA website even proudly claims to have killed 38 soldiers during the period.”
President Rodrigo R. Duterte declared a unilateral truce from March 19 to April 15 which the CPP-NPA reciprocated with their own ceasefire declaration effective March 26 to April 15 which was then extended until the 30th.
“What does that tell you? Are these not savages who deserve ‘humanitarian pause?’ Just yesterday, the same website declared an end to the NPAs unilateral declaration of “ceasefire” and a shift to ‘offensive mode’ starting May 1. Shall we then believe you when you call for a ’90-day humanitarian pause’?” said Parlade, a member of the National Task Force to End Communist Armed Conflict and Task Force Covid Shield.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
He added that Zarate must be hallucinating when he proposed this as this proposal is easier said than done due to several ceasefire violations of the CPP-NPA.
“Not after several violations of the ceasefire by the NPAs, not only against front-liners but also against IP (Indigenous Peoples) leaders whom they have killed while the troops were busy performing their tasks to enforce the ECQ,” he said.
Despite authenticated cases of communist rebels violating the ceasefire, Parlade said he finds it odd that Zarate still has the gall to call on the Commission on Human Rights and United Nations Human Rights Council to conduct an independent investigation on the supposed recent armed encounters between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the NPA during the ECQ.
“But he won’t budge, neither will the CHR chair, with the killings of non-combatants. We did not hear from both of them when the NPAs grabbed the relief goods intended for the poor in Samar, or when they ambushed government officials distributing SAP (social amelioration program) in Masbate,” he added.
The AFP, he said, remains committed to defending the country and its people against the attacks by the communist rebels.
This is proven by the fact that in seven recent encounters in Rizal, Sorsogon, Masbate, Quezon and Mindoro, more or less six NPA members were killed, including a platoon leader, along with two party leaders arrested and 26 firearms captured
The dead rebels, he said, were simply dumped in some shallow graves as surviving NPAs escaped leaderless.
“The AFP recovered your cache of arms, foodstuff, IEDs, ammunitions, laptops, and Bayan paraphernalia so your criminal band has nowhere to go. That’s the reason why Rep. Zarate wants this ceasefire again, and this time he tries to drag the UN with him in this pathetic act of his,” he added.
While the NTF ELCAC will decisively end the threats posed by the communist rebels, Parlade said there is still time for surviving NPA remnants to surrender voluntarily to the government.
“NTF ELCAC is here to end this CPP-NPA virus, as (the) IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) will do with Covid-19. But there is still time for them to surrender, and we will accept them with open arms, while we have not deployed our Cobra attack helicopters,” he said. (ia/PNA)