THE presidential palace on Sunday said government soldiers would fight back as it accused Maoist rebels of violating their unilateral cease-fire pledge amid a novel coronavirus outbreak.

On Saturday, communist rebels attacked government troops doing community work in connection with the outbreak in the village of Puray in Rodriguez, Rizal province, killing one soldier and hurting two others, presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement. A communist rebel was also killed.

“This armed attack by the New People’s Army against our soldiers exposes the insincerity of the former in declaring a cease-fire as well as their blatant disregard of the welfare of the Filipino people they claim to fight for,” he said.

The United Nations earlier called for a global armistice in the wake of the global fight against the coronavirus disease 2019.

The botched attack against military personnel was part of the rebels’ attempt to project relevance and power on their 51st founding anniversary on March 29, state-run Philippine News Agency reported, citing a statement from the military.

“They were planning to celebrate their anniversary on March 29 with a bang,” Armed Forces chief of staff Felimon Santos, Jr. said in the statement. — Gillian M. Cortez