COMMUNIST REBELS attacked soldiers delivering relief aid to parts of the central Philippines where a typhoon killed at least 32 people, army and disaster officials said on Monday, Dec. 18.
Military spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo said two soldiers were wounded when about 50 rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA), the military arm of the country’s communist movement, fired on a convoy of troops carrying relief aid on Samar island on Saturday.
The NPA has yet to comment on the accusation and it was not possible to contact the group due to power outages and disrupted communications.
The Philippines has not declared a Christmas truce with the rebels for the first time in three decades after President Rodrigo R. Duterte halted peace talks and this month designated the NPA a terrorist organization.
“(The attacks) only validated the aptness of the government’s decision to terminate the peace negotiations and to discontinue the traditional Christmas truce,” Mr. Arevalo said.
The 3,000-member rebel forces have been waging a protracted guerrilla warfare for nearly 50 years in a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people and stunted growth in resource-rich rural areas.
Mina Marasigan, spokeswoman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, called on the NPA to halt the violence.
“This is not an armed conflict,” she said, adding the rebels should let “relief work to go unhampered.”
Ms. Marasigan said emergency workers were working around the clock to restore power, clear debris and make roads and bridges passable to allow humanitarian assistance to reach about 220,000 people affected by the storm. — Reuters