MANILA, Philippines - New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas waylaid a contingent of Army soldiers engaged in humanitarian work in typhoon-ravaged Ormoc City in Leyte last Friday morning, the military said.
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, chief of the Armed Forces’ Public Affairs Office, said the soldiers belonging to the 19th Infantry Battalion were escorting personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources aboard a KM250 Army truck when the guerrillas fired at them in Barangay Cabintan.
Zagala said the firefight only stopped after almost half an hour when the rebels withdrew as they monitored that military reinforcements were rushing to the site.
“Pursuit operations have been launched against the rebels behind this dastardly act,” Zagala said, adding that no soldier or DENR employee was wounded in the attack.
The Communist Party of the Philippines’ regional committee in Eastern Visayas earlier had declared a ceasefire until mid-January in areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda, thus allowing government troops to focus their efforts on relief and rehabilitation work.
But Zagala said the CPP Central Committee allowed the NPA in Eastern Visayas “to cut short their ceasefire to disrupt the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations of the government.”
“As evidenced by this attack, they do not discriminate between the military and civilians,” Zagala said, adding that the rebels did not only violate their own ceasefire but also put the lives of civilians in danger.
Zagala said the attack has worsened the complex situation that the typhoon survivors are facing.
“Clearly, the CPP-NPA is making it more difficult for Eastern Visayas to rise back. We, as a nation, should not tolerate these actions against our citizens by those whose intention is to destroy rather than to build. By launching the attack, the NPA does not contribute to the effort of all Filipinos and the international community in rebuilding the storm-ravaged region,” Zagala said.