KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/10 March) – At least 12 were killed and 7 others injured in separate attacks by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Matanao, Davao del Sur on Monday.
The rebels first attacked the town’s police station around 4:30 a.m. killing two policemen and wounding three others, according to a military report. One of the wounded policemen died later in the day.
Two of the fatalities were identified as SPO3 Manolo Booc and SPO3 Danny Mualong.
Captain William Rodriguez, spokesperson of the 1002nd brigade, said at least 50 rebels belonging to Front 72 under Felix Armodia aka Jing arrived on board one jeepney, one Forward truck and one Elf truck.
A military report said the rebels tried to overrun the police station but failed because the policemen fought back.
The same report said the NPA unit that attacked the station suffered heavy casualties, although it did not mention if there were bodies of rebels that were left behind.
Around 5:00 a.m., another group of NPA, still under Armodia, attacked an Army detachment in Barangay Donganpekong, Matanao, but failed to inflict damage, it added.
The 39th Infantry Battalion caught nine suspected rebels in a subsequent pursuit operation in Sitio Tagaytay, Barangay Savoy of the same town. They were turned over to the Matanao police for investigation.
Minutes after the apprehension, two rebels were reportedly killed in an encounter with the pursuing troops.
Hours later, a landmine explosion and bursts of gunfire hit an Army truck in Sitio Lahak, Barangay Asbang, Matanao killing seven soldiers and wounding seven others.
Reports said at least 18 elements of the 39th IB under 2Lt Lodivico Alejo were onboard the truck to chase the rebels.
Radio reports from Davao City identified the fatalities as Privates First Class Rey Alilaya, Clyde Dayaday and Johnny (no surname given), Corporals Ameher Sedani, Wilfredo Baninsala and Rodel Lamson, and another private first class whose identity was withheld pending notification of his family.
A young Army officer was reported killed but the military would not confirm this.
The attacks in Matanao occurred just a week after the NPA stage a landmine attack in Barangay Managa, Bansalan, Davao del Sur that injured 12 soldiers and five Red Cross medical volunteers whose ambulance happened to tail a military vehicle.
The military has condemned the continuous use of landmines by the NPA.
In a statement, Col. Marcos Norman Flores Jr. of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade described today’s series of attacks as “barbaric and brutal acts.”
He said the use of landmines by the NPA violated the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
The NPA has issued an apology to the civilian victims of the Bansalan attack.
“We take responsibility for this act as we take cognizance of the fact that the medical staff and mobile medical units should not have been made target of any attack and whose protection and/or safety is
guaranteed under international humanitarian law,” it said in a statement last March 5.
The use of landmines has always been a point of contention between the Philippine government and the NPA. The government is pushing for the complete ban of all landmines. But the rebel group has always argued that the 1997 Ottawa Convention or the Mine Ban Treaty only prohibits the use of anti-personnel landmines, not command-detonated landmines. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)