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Davao City, Philippines

Army condemns NPA attack on IP community

March 25, 2020 - Wednesday 6:03 PM by Ruth Palo

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DAVAO CITY — The Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division (ID) condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) for attacking an IP (Indigenous People) community in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte on Tuesday morning, March 24.

10th ID Division of Public Affairs Office Chief Captain Jerry Lamosao told the Mirror that the NPA attack in Sitio Tapayanon in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong on March 24 “sowed fear among the residents in the area.”

The attack was made even as Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Ma. Sison advised the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to issue a unilateral ceasefire declaration to the NPA “in order to respond to the call of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire between warring parties for the common purpose of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The NDFP and the broad masses of the people themselves need to refrain from launching tactical offensives to gain more time and opportunity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and to look after the health and overall welfare of the people in both urban and rural areas,” Sison had said in an article on the NDFP website on March 24.

President Rodrigo Duterte had himself declared a unilateral ceasefire from March 19 to April 15, 2020 as state forces had been sent to man borders and enforce the guidelines of the state of public health emergency to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Lamosao said the 10ID condemns the “treacherous act” of the NPA.

“They accepted the unilateral ceasefire and broke it immediately. They took advantage of the situation,” he said.

60th IB Civil Military Operations Head First Lieutenant Amadeuz Celestial told the Mirror that their troops were conducting routine Community Support Program (CSP) activities in the area when an undetermined number of rebels said to be a combined group from the CPP-NPA’s North Central Mindanao and Southern Mindanao Regional Commands hit their position.

Amadeuz said the 60IB was able to immediately counter the attack, immediately effecting mortar and artillery fire towards the rebels’ position and employing close air support from the Philippine Air Force.

No government troop or civilian was hurt during the attack, he said.

Celestial said they were able to anticipate the said attack because a community informant has forewarned them of a planned “tactical offensive” against its troops conducting community support programs in these boundary areas. 

In a statement, 60IB Commander Lieutenant Colonel Ronaldo Sarmiento, expressed his dismay at the NPA’s “shamefully taking advantage” of the situation while millions of Filipinos are facing the threat of COVID-19. 

“With or without COVID-19 and despite the ceasefire, our orders remain to be that of maintaining the peace in the communities under our responsibility and we will continue to do just that,” he said.