Manila: A government soldier was wounded in an attack on an army truck taking part in evacuation efforts in Albay as Mayon volcano continued to exhibit heightened activity.

According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Civil Relations Service (CRS), a truck dispatched by the government to evacuate residents in the town of Guinobatan last Monday was ambushed by New Peoples Army (NPA) guerrillas. A soldier from the 83rd Infantry Battalion, identified as Gilno Manuel, was injured while a number of insurgents were wounded by soldiers repelling the attack.

“This act by the NPA’s is a clear disrespect of the rights of evacuees to receive assistance from our government. This shows that they are insensitive to the plight of the Mayon evacuees,” Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla AFP-CRS chief said.

The Army 9th Infantry Division based in the Bicol Region is taking part in efforts to evacuate residents inside the eight kilometre danger zone around Mayon, to evacuation areas around the province of Albay.

Reacting to reports of the rebel attacks, Cedric Daep of the Albay Provincial Security and Emergency Management Office appealed to the insurgents that instead of attacking government forces engaged in humanitarian evacuations, it would be better for the NPA to “help the government bring the evacuees to a safe area.”

Bicol has traditionally been an area infested with communist insurgents. During times of disasters, combatants are expected to avoid conducting attacks as a humanitarian gesture.

Fortunately at the time of the attack, the military was just on its way to pick up evacuees in the village of Dona Mercedes in Guinobatan.