Davao City: The Eastern Mindanao Command condemned the atrocities perpetrated by the New People’s Army against the Indigenous Peoples’ communities during the past days amid the height of the COVID-19 crisis.
“While every sector in the country and the whole world are battling a deadly virus and its economic and social impact, the Communist Terrorist Group is aggravating the misery of the communities by taking advantage of carrying out attacks against the vulnerable communities. This is a clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law,” said MGen. Jose C. Faustino Jr., the Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command.
The NPA’s attack transpired just a day after the United Nations called for a global ceasefire to focus all the countries’ battle against COVID 19.
It can also be recalled that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with CPP-NPA-NDF effective March 19, 2020 so the state can focus on efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus disease or COVID-19.
At about 6:00 AM on March 24, 2020, an undetermined number of Communist terrorists attacked Sitio Tapayanon in Brgy. Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, which prompted the Community Support Teams under the 60th Infantry Battalion, who were conducting a Community Support Program in the area, to respond and engage the group in a firefight.
A second skirmish transpired an hour later after the troops were conducting a clearing operation. The communist NPAs scampered to different directions after a 10-minute exchange of fires.
On the evening of March 19, 2020, the NPA group brutally and inhumanely murdered two elderly Indigenous Peoples belonging to a Manobo tribe in Sitio Inadan, Barangay Magroyong, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.
The victims were identified as Hawudon Bernardino Astudillo, 73 years old, Manobo, who was the tribal chieftain of Brgy. Magroyong, and a certain Zaldy Ibaňez, 52 years old, Manobo, both residents of Sitio Inadan, Brgy Magroyong, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.
The said victims were forcibly taken from their respective homes in the presence of their family members and were brought in a forested area of the said Barangay where they were mercilessly stabbed to death by more or less 15 armed men belonging to a group of communist NPA terrorists being monitored in Nort-Eastern Mindanao.
Meanwhile, MGen. Jose C. Faustino Jr. reminded the troops all over Eastern Mindanao to remain vigilant against communist NPA terrorists’ treachery.
“While our troops to include our Community Support Teams deployed in the different communities have shifted focused in assisting LGUs and health authorities in preventing the spread of COVID 19 and mitigate its impact, we should not put our guards down considering the Communist Terrorist Group’s display of treachery,” MGen Faustino Jr. said.
“We will continue to monitor their plans, actions, and movements and will not hesitate to take the necessary military actions if they have moves that will compromise and imperil the safety of our troops doing community works, the frontliners in the fight against COVID 19 and our communities,” he added.