Six captured members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and another rebel killed during armed clashes in San Fernando and Valencia City in Bukidnon last week are COVID-19 positive, based on the results of the tests conducted.
Maj. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr., commander of Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said that 6 out of the 10 members including 3 minors of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA (CPP-NPA) who were captured in the San Fernando and Valencia City in Bukidnon encounters were found to be COVID-19 positive.
He said another NPA member, known only as alias Jilian killed during the operation turned out also to be COVID-19 positive. The slain rebel was immediately buried upon learning that he is COVID-19 positive.
“Many in the NPA ranks possibly have COVID-19 as evidenced by the positive test results of the captured and dead CNTs. Nais ko pong ipaalam sa kanila na wala pong pinipili ang COVID-19, sundalo, kapulisan, mga kawani, simpleng mamamayan at maging mga miyembro ng CPP-NPA-NDF ay tinatablan din ng nakakamatay na COVID-19,” Brawner said.
He said soldiers are willing to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the communist terrorist group (CTG) “if they decide to abandon the armed struggle and cooperate with us.”
Brawner appealed to the CTG leaders and members to abandon the armed struggle, saying that the country is currently facing an unseen enemy that is even more serious and deadly exempting no one, the COVID-19 virus.
“I am personally appealing to Jorge Madlos, alias Ka Oris, and his group to return to the peaceful path now and go down from the mountains so that they can be given vaccines and proper medical attention,” he said.
According to Brawner, Secretary Carlito Galvez of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has promised that even members of the CTG will be provided with vaccines to demonstrate the government’s sincerity in calling for reconciliation amidst this pandemic that significantly changed our way of life.