THE military’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) has condemned the atrocities perpetrated by the New People’s Army against the Indigenous Peoples during the past days amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis.
Major General Jose Faustino, Jr., Eastmincom chief, said the NPA rebels are aggravating the misery of the communities by taking advantage of carrying out attacks against the vulnerable communities while every sector in the country and the whole world are battling an invisible enemy and its economic and social impact.
“These (attacks) are clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law,” Faustino said.
Faustino noted that the NPA's attack transpired just a day after the United Nations called for a global ceasefire to focus all the countries’ battle against Covid-19.
He said it can also be recalled that President Rodrigo Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) effective last Thursday, March 19, “so the state can focus on efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.”
However, Faustino said group of NPA rebels attacked around 6 a.m. Tuesday Sitio Tapayanon in Gupitan Village, Kapalong, Davao del Norte.
He said that attack prompted the teams under the Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion, who were conducting a community support program in the area, to respond and engage the NPA rebels in a firefight.
The official said a second skirmish transpired an hour later after the troops were conducting a clearing operation. The NPA rebels scampered to different directions after a 10-minute firefight.
He said on the evening of March 19, the NPA rebels brutally and inhumanely murdered two elderly Indigenous Peoples belonging to a Manobo tribe at Sitio Inadan in the village of Magroyong, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.
Faustino said the victims were identified as Hawudon Bernardino Astudillo, 73, Manobo, who was the tribal chieftain of Barangay Magroyong, and a certain Zaldy Ibanez, 52, Manobo.
He added that the victims were forcibly taken from their respective homes and were brought in a forested area where they were killed more or less 15 NPA rebels, who frequent in North-Eastern Mindanao area.
Meanwhile, Faustino reminded the troops all over Eastern Mindanao to remain vigilant against NPA rebels’ treachery.
“While our troops to include our Community Support Teams deployed in the different communities have shifted focused in assisting LGUs (Local Government Units) and health authorities in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and mitigate its impact, we should not put our guards down considering the NPA rebels’ display of treachery,” he said. (SunStar Zamboanga)