MANILA, Philippines - Suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) are allegedly taking advantage of the government-declared 18-day Christmas and New Year truce as some of them are spotted lining up for food rations in areas hit by typhoon Pablo in Compostela Valley.
“They (NPAs) are also benefitting from the ongoing food and non-food distribution. We know them but in the spirit of Christmas and in observance of the truce, our troops do not discriminate in the ongoing relief operations,” an Army field officer based in the province said.
Compostela Valley is among the areas in Mindanao where there are a large number of suspected communist rebels. It is also the same province that suffered the most from the typhoon, which killed and displaced hundreds.
Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, 10th Infantry Division commander based in Mawab also in the province, confirmed reports from field operatives that some rebels and their families may be benefitting from the relief operations in Compostela Valley.
Bernardo stressed that soldiers deployed in disaster and relief operations do not discriminate in the distribution of food and clothing and other non-food donations to the storm-affected evacuees.
An Army junior officer whose unit is in the forefront of the government internal security operations in Compostela Valley said "Pablo" also devastated NPA strongholds in the province.