PASIG CITY (March 20, 2020)— Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. condemned the communist rebels for the killing of two civilians on the first day the unilateral ceasefire declaration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte took effect.

According to Galvez, the separate attacks carried out by the Community Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Visayas and Mindanao “shows the heartlessness of the rebel group despite the severe health crisis our nation is now facing.”

In a televised address last Monday, the President appealed to the communist insurgents for a ceasefire so the government could focus on containing the spread of the COVID -19 disease across the country. The ceasefire took effect last March 19 and will end on April 15.

“‘Wag ninyo munang galawin ang mga sundalo. Ano muna tayo, ceasefire lang. Ceasefire muna tayo (Do not attack soldiers for now. Let’s have a ceasefire. I am the one asking.),” President Duterte said.

“President Duterte ordered a suspension of military operations hoping the rebel group would consider his appeal and reciprocate. However, the Reds have clearly ignored his request and instead took the lives of innocent people,” Galvez said.

In Brgy. Magroyong, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, around 15 bolo-wielding members of the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda 1 of the CPP-NPA’s North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee murdered Datu Bernardino Austidillo, 73, and Zaldy Ibanez, 52.

Both victims, who were reportedly killed in front of their families, were members of the Manobo tribe. Austidillo was a tribal leader of the village, while Ibanez was a former rebel who turned himself into authorities last November 2019.

Meanwhile, a CAFGU patrol base in Brgy. Sandayao, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental was attacked by armed men believed to be members of the CPP-NPA’s Leonardo Panaligan Command (LPC). No casualties were recorded during the firefight.

“Where is the CPP-NPA’s sense of humanity? Where is their concern for their countrymen whose rights and welfare they profess to fight for? Please stop spreading fear and violence among our people,” Galvez said.

Galvez called on the CPP-NPA to show compassion and solidarity with their fellow Filipinos during these difficult times, and return the government’s show of good faith.

“We hope the CPP-NPA would set aside our differences for the meantime because we are fighting an unseen enemy which does not choose its victims. Continued attacks against our law enforcers and civilians will only worsen the situation,” Galvez said.

“Now is the time for our people to unite as a nation. We are all patriots, regardless of our political beliefs and ideologies. Together, we shall win this war and emerge stronger after this crisis,” he said.

In a statement last April 19, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said: “Through this ceasefire, the Philippine Government aspires that the swift provision of public health assistance goes unimpeded with the movement of health workers and medical supplies to communities, as well as of people in need of immediate medical attention remains unhampered. ###