The Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) on Wednesday urged "starving" members of the New People's Army to surrender to authorities and avail the government's assistance in this time of health crisis due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
"Instead of harassing and grabbing the relief goods of the communities and adding to their misery, it is better for the NPA members to surrender and avail the government's Enhanced Local Integration Program and other government social programs," Major General Jose Faustino, commander of EastMinCom, said in a press release.
"We have a caring government that attends to the need of every citizen of this country in times of crisis," he added.
Faustino's call came after government troops had a series of encounters with communist rebels following reports that several members of the NPA were harassing residents in Barangay Cuyago, Jabonga, Agusan Del Norte on April 13 and those from Barangay Mahan-ub, Baganga, Davao Oriental on April 11.
Faustino, meanwhile, hailed government forces for their support to various initiatives of local government units against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The military official also reminded soldiers to continue protecting communities from lawless groups.
"Let us continue to support the local government initiatives and programs to prevent the spread of the virus and mitigate its social and economic impact without compromising the security of our communities from possible terroristic acts," Faustino said. —LDF, GMA News