Two dead after encounter with communist rebels in Rizal

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 28) – Two people died on Saturday in a clash with communist rebels in Rodriguez, Rizal.

The two casualties are a member of the Philippine Army’s Community Support Program team and a member of the New People’s Army.

Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division based in Rizal, condemned the incident as it violated the “reciprocal declaration of ceasefire” declared between the national government and the communist rebels on March 26.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, NPA, on March 19. The ceasefire will last until April 15.

RELATED: Duterte declares unilateral ceasefire with CPP-NPA to focus on COVID-19 fight

The CPP, through the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, also recommended a ceasefire to heed the United Nations' call for global truce amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Concerned citizens alerted the Army troops about the presence of the NPA rebels in Barangay Puray at around 3 p.m. today. .

The two sides engaged in an encounter, resulting to two other soldiers wounded in action. Both are now in stable condition.

“Our 18 soldiers were able to repel the planned attack by around 30 terrorists, whom we believe suffered considerable losses as manifested by the heavy bloodstains in the encounter site,” said Burgos.

The military recovered the dead body of the NPA rebel, along with with his M16 rifle, hand grenade, rifle grenade and jungle pack.

Despite the attack, Burgos affirmed the military’s commitment to securing the safety of the Filipinos and preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“We will remain steadfast in performing our mandate to serve our people and secure this part of our land while committing ourselves to the urgent task of containing the spread of Covid-19. We will adhere to the provisions of the unilateral ceasefire without prejudice to the safety and security of the people in our communities,” he said.