March 31 ------ The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Monday said its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), would continue to observe the ceasefire so that its members could extend public health service to the people amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) threat. "In line with the CPP's ceasefire declaration, the NPA will not mount armed actions against military, police, paramilitary, and other armed agents attached to the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines)," the CPP said in a statement.
It noted, however, that they would remain alert against military attacks. This came after an incident in Barangay Puray in Rodriguez, Rizal in which a government soldier and an NPA gunman were killed when a Philippine Army Community Support Program (CSP) Team and communist insurgents had an encounter. Following the firefight, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the NPA was ignoring the ceasefire declaration.
The CPP then said claims that the NPA unit was planning an attack against government forces was "baseless." The communist group instead called on government troops to focus on their operations in containing the spread of COVID-19. "The Party assures AFP soldiers that they will not be attacked during the ceasefire period, especially if they are conducting public health activities in relation to efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19," the CPP said. "We urge AFP units to concentrate on COVID-19 operations and refrain from conducting anti-NPA patrol operations which may result in armed contact with nearby NPA units," it added.