NPA attacks IP community in DavNor town

By Che Palicte

March 25, 2020, 9:12 pm

<p>A view of Sitio Tapayanon, a tribal settlement in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong town, Davao del Norte. <em>(File photo courtesy of the 10th Infantry Division)</em></p>

A view of Sitio Tapayanon, a tribal settlement in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong town, Davao del Norte. (File photo courtesy of the 10th Infantry Division)

DAVAO CITY – New People’s Army (NPA) fighters attacked an Indigenous Peoples (IP) community in Kapalong town in  Davao del Norte Tuesday morning, a military official said Wednesday.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, chief of the Army's 10th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office, said no one was hurt in the 10-minute encounter that ensued after government troops responded to civilian reports that an undetermined number of rebels attacked a Manobo settlement in Sitio Tapayanon, Barangay Gupitan.

“The enemy withdrew towards unknown directions and while clearing the encounter site, troops were deliberately fired upon by an undetermined number of terrorist but troops were able to occupy their defensive positions as close air support moves in,” Lamosao said in a text message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

1Lt. Amadeuz Celestial, civil-military operations chief of the Army's 60th Infantry Battalion, said they managed to fend off the attack by firing mortar and artillery rounds on the rebel position.

Celestial said the Army was able to anticipate the attack after receiving civilian tipoffs on the NPA's planned “tactical offensive” against the troops conducting community support programs in the area.

“Amidst the Covid-19 crisis, NPAs took advantage and attacked the IPs but 10ID will always protect the IP communities from CTGs (communist terrorist group) threat,” Lamosao added.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire from March 19 until April 15, 2020, as state forces are being utilized to man checkpoints and help enforce the guidelines of the state of public health emergency to contain the spread of 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

The President ordered the Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police to "cease and desist from carrying out offensive military and police operations during the ceasefire period.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) condemned the NPA attack and noted that it came just a day after the United Nations called for a global ceasefire for all countries to focus on the battle against Covid-19.

"While every sector in the country and the whole world are battling an invisible virus and its economic and social impact, the CTG 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 Maj. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., Eastmincom commander.

Faustino reminded the troops all over Eastern Mindanao to remain vigilant against the NPA's "treachery."

"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 said.

The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)