The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it has recorded several successes, shortly after the conclusion of the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Rodrigo Duterte, following the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.
“Starting 00:00 of 19 March 2020, in deference to the order of President Duterte, AFP ground units faithfully complied with the orders to cease all offensive operations on orders of AFP Chief General Felimon Santos, Jr,” said AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, in a statement on May 1, 2020.
He added that “intelligence-driven combat operations against the terrorist New People’s Army resumed without let-up” when the unilateral ceasefire lapsed midnight of April 16.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom, European Union, United States, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Data obtained from April 16 to 28 showed that the AFP has initiated a total of 34 combat operations.
“It accounted for 10 terrorists dead and seven captured or surrendered in various skirmishes in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao,” Arevalo said.
Also seized from these operations were a total of 58 high-power firearms (M-16s with grenade launchers, M-16s, AK-47s, M-14s, etc), and scores of rifle magazines and assorted ammunition, 20 pieces of improvised explosive devices, and other documents yielding extensive information about the terrorists.
“Telling, but no more surprising are the confiscations in Samar raid packs of anti-pregnancy pills. This supports the heart-breaking revelations of female members of the NPA who were either rescued or surrendered—some of them pregnant, of how they were sexually abused and molested by their superiors; Of how some of them were constrained to marry their commanders for lack of recourse,” Arevalo said.
He also slammed the NPA for always saying that they will “resume offensive operations” when in reality, they have not.
“But the AFP is unfazed by the CPP’s saber-rattling. What we are more concerned with and is determined to prevent are their attacks on non-combatant civilians and tribal leaders which are also violations of International Humanitarian Law,” Arevalo said.
Contrary to their claims that they are a benevolent organization, people complain of NPA abuses and robbing them of their relief goods, the murder of their leaders, and other atrocities at this time of crisis.
And by virtue of these atrocities, Arevalo said local folks are now more inclined to report the presence of communist rebels in their communities leading to these successful operations.
Amid various tasks the AFP is now doing to help the country deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, he said the military is more than ready to conduct combat patrols against these communist rebels to stop them from harming communities and its people.
“We will not hesitate to put our lives on the line — against the unseen enemy which is Covid-19 or the lingering CPP-NPA virus. We will defeat them as one,” Arevalo said. (Priam Nepomuceno, PNA)