Army official to NPA rebels: Surrender, get vaccinated
By : Jigger Jerusalem Mindanao Today/08:47:16am 09/15/2021
Maj. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., 4th Infantry Division commander. (Jigger Jerusalem)
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - Communist rebels engaging the military in armed conflict in the countryside should surrender to the authorities and have themselves be tested for coronavirus and avail of free vaccination from the government, an Army general said in a statement.
This after members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were either captured or killed in action recently were found to be positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), said Maj. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., commander of the 4th Infantry Division, in a statement Tuesday, Sept. 14.
Brawner said three of the 10 NPA fighters that included a minor who were apprehended in the Sept. 8 encounter in San Fernando town, Bukidnon, turned out to be infected with Covid-19.
He added that an NPA rebel who was killed in a separate gunfight in Talakag town, Bukidnon on Sept. 9 also tested positive for Covid-19.
The following day, Sept. 10, in Valencia City, Bukidnon, another three of the four captured guerrillas, including two children, yielded positive results on the real-time polymerase chain reaction or swab tests.
“Many in the NPA ranks possibly have Covid-19 as evidenced by the positive test results of the captured and dead CNTs (communist New People’s Army terrorists). I would like to inform them that Covid-19 does not choose who it infects. Soldiers, police, workers, ordinary people, and even CPP-NPA-NDF members can be infected by the deadly virus,” Brawner said.
The general said the Army is willing to provide Covid-19 vaccines to the insurgents “if they will decide to abandon the armed struggle and cooperate with us.”
Brawner identified the infected rebels arrested in the San Fernando encounter as alias “Taburok,” alias “Manman,” and alias “Daniel,” while those from Valencia were known by their monikers “Anjie,” and “Jayson” and “RK,” both minors.
He said it was discovered that a wounded rebel identified as “Kib,” who underwent a surgical operation on Sept. 11, also tested positive for the Delta variant.
The Army did not indicate when and where “Kib” was captured.
The rebels who were killed in action where immediately buried following the result of their swab test, official said.
Because of this, Brawner has appealed to the CPP-NPA leadership to surrender and abandon the armed conflict, especially now that the “country is currently confronting an unseen enemy that is even more serious, deadly, and exempts no one.”
“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.
He reiterated Office of the Presidential Assistant on Peace Process Secretary Carlito Galvez’ promise that even members of the CPP-NPA-NDF will be provided with vaccines as a sign of government sincerity in calling for reconciliation amidst the pandemic.
Brawner said the Armed Forces of the Philippines is “most willing to share with the CNTs the vaccines intended for our soldiers.”