Units of the New People’s Army in the region have taken active defense against ceasefire and human rights violations of operating AFP troops between December 27 to 30, consequently launching 5 military actions that resulted in at least 26 casualties against enemy troops.
AFP soldiers belonging to the 28th IB and Scout Rangers Company took a beating from the Red fighters of Comval-Davao East Coast Subregional Command following a series of offensives in Brgy. Tubaon, Tarragona, Davao Oriental.
AFP troops have launched operations in Brgy. Tubaon, a remote village in Tarragona, since before its supposed ceasefire began on December 23. There is no truth to the pronouncement of Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, Commanding Officer of the 10th Infantry Division that the NPA harassed a militia outpost and a militiaman on December 25. It was on December 28 when enemy troops were hit three times in one day by NPA harassment and demolition operations in Sitio Gibaan and Sitio Bato-bato, killing 16 and severely wounding 2 others.
As they were lured deep into the NPA’s active defense plan, the joint forces of the 28th IB and Scout Rangers were ambushed on December 30 in Sitio Madian, resulting in at least 8 casualties. A Red fighter was martyred during the tactical offensive.
In Lupon, Davao Oriental, Red fighters also launched a harassment operation against operating 66th IB troops at around 12PM on December 27 in Brgy. Marayag. Apart from several hours of mortar shelling, the enemy troops also detained for three days 10 farmers and subjected them to physical and psychological torture.
All military actions of the NPA were undertaken in adherence to the CPP declaration of ceasefire during the traditional holidays. In fact, in contrast and in direct violation of their own ceasefire pronouncement, the AFP aggressively deployed combat troops in remote villages in at least 8 municipalities in the region.
Since December 19 up to the present, the 60th IB, 72nd IB and their paramilitary Alamara forces have terrorized hundreds of civilians in at least 4 Lumad communities in Brgy. Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte. The Lumad have since evacuated to other villages because of food blockade that was enforced by AFP troops and their paramilitary forces. Other cases of harassments were reported in adjacent villages.
In North Cotabato, particularly in Arakan, the newly-deployed 15th IB has practically turned the town into a virtual garrison with its troops launching operations day in and day out in Lumad and peasant villages even during the AFP’s ceasefire period. Since December 11, hundreds of AFP soldiers have been deployed in several villages in town.
Peace and human rights advocates in the province are raising alarm that the deployment of a full battalion will only escalate and aggravate cases of human rights abuses perpetrated by AFP soldiers and the paramilitary Alamara.
In Magpet town, troops from the 39th IB launched operations on December 23 until January 2 in Brgy. Mahongcog and plan to construct detachment in the middle of the civilian populace. In the town’s brgy. Tiko, troops belonging to the 39th IB and paramilitary Bagni scoured Lumad communities from December 21 until December 26. Prior to this, the 39th IB terrorized the village when it launched several rounds of indiscriminate aerial shelling using night-capable fighter planes at 3:00 in the morning and at least 10 rounds of mortar shelling that lasted until noon on December 21. Following the unprovoked and senseless aerial attack and bombardment, farms were destroyed as troops ransacked houses of civilians.
In Compostela Valley, the 46th IB and the 71st IB launched offensive operations in the hinterland villages of Tapan and Mascareg; in Malamodao,Panibasan and Panangan in Maco town; and in Lawaan, Panganasan and Palo in Pantukan town from December 23 until December 26.
These operations were clearly vain attempts by the US-Duterte regime at preventing the masses and the NPA from holding celebrations for the 49th year anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26. The forward deployment of AFP troops in interior villages around the region unmasked the AFP’s predisposition to violate their own ceasefire violation and which, time and again, has been proven to not only be spurious but also empty propaganda as well.
The NPA in Southern Mindanao will continue to defend the masses and the political authority of the People’s Democratic Government in the face of escalating fascism of the US-Duterte regime with more head and body blows against the AFP, PNP and their paramilitary forces. The tactical offensives against the rabid reactionary armed forces serve to underscore the growing demand to overthrow Rodrigo Duterte from power.
(Sgd.) Rigoberto F. Sanchez