NPA's ambush on relief convoy 'disrespect' to typhoon victims

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Tuesday's (December 22) rebel ambush on government troops transporting relief goods in Northern Samar is a "disrespect" to typhoon victims, the military said Wednesday, December 23.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) condemns the dastardly act done by communist rebels against our troops under the 20th Infantry Battalion engaged in humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations for typhoon “Nona” victims in Northern Samar," the AFP said in a statement.

On Tuesday, one soldier was killed while 2 others were wounded when rebels ambushed their convoy transporting relief goods in near Barangay Bukit, Las Navas, Northern Samar.

The troops from the 20th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army were bringing repair materials to victims of Typhoon Nona (Melor) when they were ambushed by an unknown number of rebel fighters.

"This act by the NPAs is a clear disrespect of the rights of typhoon victims to receive assistance from our government," the AFP said. "This shows that they are insensitive to the plight of the victims of typhoon."

Despite this, the AFP said soldiers will "strictly observe" the ceasefire declared by President Benigno Aquino III, which begins Wednesday and ends January 3.

The communists have also declared a ceasefire during the same period.

"We assure the public that this incident will not hamper our ongoing HADR operations for the storm victims," the AFP added.

Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr stressed the same point: "Government is fully determined to carry out and complete needed relief and rehabilitation work in calamity-affected areas despite recent attacks in Samar that momentarily disrupted our main efforts in rendering humanitarian assistance and disaster relief."

He said the government would "increase the deployment of personnel assigned to force protection and road security." – Rappler.com