The New People’s Army in Eastern Visayas today dismissed accusations of violating its unilateral ceasefire, such as in Calbiga, Western Samar and Las Navas, Northern Samar, as hogwash from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). “Various units of the New People’s Army (NPA) report that the AFP troops did not withdraw but stepped up operations,” said Ka Karlos Manuel, spokesperson of the Efren Martires Command. “On the other hand, the NPA is focusing on helping the people confront COVID-19 and acting with utmost restraint in the face of the AFP’s provocations. The NPA is observing its unilateral ceasefire while on a high state of alert and readiness to defend itself and the people against treacherous attacks by the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.”
In the latest incident of AFP ceasefire violations, troops of the 20th Infantry Battalion conducted an offensive operation against the local unit of the NPA in Lakandula, Las Navas last April 7. “The soldiers were certainly looking for a firefight when they traveled from a detachment two hours away from the interior barrio of Lakandula, which is within the territory of the People’s Democratic Government, so they can conduct ‘community protection patrol’ based on an oft-recycled ‘tip’ of alleged extortion by the NPA in the area. The NPA strongly adheres to the the Party’s directive to focus efforts towards assisting the people who are further burdened by the ineffective, draconian at anti-poor measures of the Duterte regime against the pandemic.”
The EMC spokesperson further noted that the April 9 address of GRP President Rodrigo Duterte that the COVID-19 crisis will drag on for two years shows the government is exploiting the issue to ensure its grip on power till 2022 and beyond. “Duterte’s statement shows the government utterly failed to stop the spread of the virus by mere lockdown without mass testing. The people are further incredulous that Duterte keeps on asking for hundreds of billions in anti-COVID funds, which many are complaining do not reach the poor and the frontliners. These funds will surely be siphoned into corruption black holes.
“It is criminally negligent for the Duterte government to let the COVID-19 epidemic rage on and kill possibly thousands, with even more casualties from hunger and want engendered by repressive measures that deprive the people of jobs, transportation, access to health services and other socio-economic necessities. But the people’s rage is mounting as they realize the unfathomable evil of Duterte in weaponizing the anti-COVID campaign to cow the people and to ensure his regime’s lease on power.”
The NPA called on the people to remain vigilant and assert their rights against the AFP’s continuing military operations and the repressive COVID-19 measures. “While we urge the AFP to show mercy to the plight of the people, we also call on the people to remain vigilant, expose and oppose the AFP’s unilateral ceasefire violations in the guise of anti-COVID operations.
“The NPA will continue to observe its unilateral ceasefire. The NPA and the entire revolutionary movement are one with the people in confronting the COVID-19 epidemic. We must fight on two fronts because the more Duterte stays in power, the more it will maximize the biological weapon of the plague to terrorize the people. The people must therefore rely on their strength with the help of the revolutionary movement and other humanitarian organizations to surmount the public health crisis. Moreover, we must strive for the broadest unity to further isolate, bring to account and oust the fascist, corrupt and pro-imperialist Duterte regime. In the time to come, the fury of the people will explode like a volcano and sweep away the rotten Duterte regime.”#