Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar on Saturday denounced the treacherous attack allegedly staged by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Borongan City, Eastern Samar that killed two people and wounded several others.
The PCOO chief was saddened that the “senseless” act of the NPA rebels came during the Yuletide season.
“We vehemently condemn the NPA attack in Barangay Libuton, which left two dead and wounded several individuals, including three children and policemen,” Andanar said in a statement.
“The loss of life and the violence experienced by the victims are reprehensible. We can only imagine the grief of their loved ones who would have spent the Christmas season with them in good health, had it not been for the senseless act of these terrorists. Our thoughts go out to all of you in this difficult time.”
A police report said suspected communist insurgents on Friday afternoon detonated an improvised explosive device on the roadside in Libutan village in Borongan City, Eastern Samar, hitting a police patrol car passing the area.
Reports said a police officer and a 69-year-old woman were killed, while five other policemen and 12 civilians, including three minors, were hurt. Police have yet to release the identities of the victims.
Andanar, nevertheless, lauded those who showed selfless acts to help those who sustained injuries during the explosion. “We commend the police, the emergency personnel, and the civilians who helped and protected those that they could. Their courage and selflessness are admirable,” he said.
The attack came just four days after President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that he is considering communist rebels as his “friends.”
On December 7, the President announced that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, former state chief peace negotiator, would hold a dialogue with self-exiled communist founder Jose Maria Sison in The Netherlands for the possible revival of peace talks between the national government and the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) political arm, the National Democratic Front (NDF).
The peace negotiations were formally scrapped through the issuance of Proclamation 360 on Nov. 23, 2017, due to ceaseless attacks launched by NPA rebels against government troops and civilians.
On Dec. 5, 2017, the President signed Proclamation 375, branding the CPP and its armed wing, the NPA, as terror groups because of their supposed actions “against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of nations.”
Apart from the Philippines, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have listed the CPP-NPA as a terror organization.
Andanar, who concurrently serves as communication chief of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), vowed to convey the government’s resolve to end the armed struggle by communicating and engaging with local officials and civil society groups.
“Rest assured, this administration will continue its fight against terrorism and insurgency for the safety and security of all Filipinos, and in order to achieve true and lasting peace for the country,” he said.
The NTF-ELCAC, created through Executive Order 70 signed by Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018, is mandated to implement the whole-of-nation approach that seeks to attain “inclusive and sustainable peace.” (PNA)