CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Communist rebels are urged to surrender, get tested for the virulent virus and avail of the vaccination program of the government.

Members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were captured and those killed in recent clash in Bukidnon were found positive of COVID-19.

Maj. General Romeo Brawner Jr,. Commander of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) said that three of the 10 NPA fighters including a minor who were apprehended in the September 8 encounter in San Fernando town in Bukidnon tested positive of the coronavirus.

In a statement released on September 13, Brawner added that an NPA rebel who was killed in a separate gunfight in Talakag town, Bukidnon on September 9 also tested positive for Covid-19.

The following day, September 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,” who are both minors.

A wounded rebel identified as “Kib” who underwent surgical operation on September 11 also tested positive of COVID-19.

The Army did not indicate when and where “Kib” was captured.

The rebels who were killed during the gunfight where immediately buried following the result of their swab tests, Brawner said.

Brawner appeals 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 (sic) 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 amid the pandemic.

Brawner said the Armed Forces of the Philippines is “most willing to share with the CNTs the vaccines intended for our soldiers.”

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