On the evening of March 18, 2020, Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDFP purportedly because of the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Duterte ordered a cessation of all military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) against the New People’s Army (NPA). In effect, the AFP troops operating in the mountains of North Eastern Mindanao Region (NEMR) must pull-out. This includes those implementing civil-military operations (CMO) such as the community support program (CSP).
At the moment, combat operations of the 30th IB, 29th IB, 36th IB and 3rdSFB of the AFP and PNP combat troops continue in the mountains of Butuan City; Surigao del Norte; in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur; and in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. Meanwhile many of their troops continue to occupy the barrios in the region to implement CSP.
Recall that the military operations of the AFP including those implementing the CSP and the CAFGU detachments have not been giving significant wellbeing to the people. The military has instead limited the entry of food which the people greatly need for them to acquire resistance to fight the disease. They also control the schedule of farmers for tending their farms suspecting that they will meet with the NPA. Their harassment of residents also instill fear of being killed or arrested because of trumped-up charges and being forced into surrendering amongst farmers preventing them from going to their farms. This resulted to the decrease in agricultural production especially of food products greatly needed to be marketed in the municipality centers and cities.
They are being harassed by military operations, and now are even more burdened by the problem of COVID-19. Thus, NPA will continue to attack the AFP/PNP troops who persist to implement CMO and combat operations in the mountains.
In addition, why does the AFP and PNP forces have to be fully armed and in full battle gear while operating the quarantine checkpoints? This is harassing the civilians, seeing them (military) seemingly about to go to war.
Again, we call on the people to be calm amidst this great crisis and follow the warnings of the health agencies and the steps taken by the LGU to avoid COVID-19.#