Troops, NPA clash amid Covid-19 crisis

A NEW People’s Army (NPA) rebel was killed in a firefight with government troops in the province of Zamboanga Sibugay amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis, officials said Friday, April 3.

Lieutenant Colonel Don Templonuevo, Army’s 44th Infantry Battalion commander, said the firefight, which lasted for about 20 minutes, happened Wednesday in Balagon Village, Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay.

“The troops were resting after conducting community visitation and information dissemination on Covid-19 pandemic in far-flung areas when they were harassed by the NPAs,” Templonuevo said.

Templonuevo said the troops have recovered the cadaver of a slain NPA rebel and two M-16 Armalite rifles when they scoured Thursday the clash site.

He said the slain NPA rebel was identified as Elmar Sumasay alias Ka Junmar, a member of Guerilla Front–Feleciano A of the NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC).

Colonel Leonel Nicolas, Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade commander, said Wednesday’s attack on the troops was the second attempt of the NPAs to create havoc within two weeks in Zamboanga Sibugay.

Nicolas said the firefight was in Penaranda Village, Kabasalan in the same province.

“This is a clear manifestation of the duplicitous tactics and insincerity of the NPA on their declaration of ceasefire,” Nicolas said.

“Our troops on the ground will continue to observe the ceasefire during this Covid-19 crisis, but rest assured that all units remain alert and vigilant in protecting the communities from any atrocities by the NPA,” he added.

President Rodrigo Durterte on March 19 appealed to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to order its armed wing, the NPA, to observe the ceasefire from March 26 to April 15 due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Major General Generoso Ponio, Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, strongly condemned the NPA’s atrocities against the government troops.

“The people of Zamboanga Peninsula is already suffering from the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, and yet these terror groups continue their activities that sow fear to the people,” Ponio said.

Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), denounced the attacks saying, “these terror plots of the NPA are acts of desperation and betrayal,”

Sobejana said they will remain steadfast in assisting the government in delivering basic social services during the Covid-19 crisis, while they continue to safeguard the people in their areas of operation. (SunStar Zamboanga)


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