DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 March) – The New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao has warned of more offensives against the Aquino administration, vowing they would “seize more arms, inflict mounting casualties, and accelerate the formation of more NPA platoons.”
In a March 24 press statement titled “More reasons to advance the People’s War in Southern Mindanao,” Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the Merardo Arce Command of the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, said the arrest of couple Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria on March 22 “only emboldens the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao to further intensify the people’s war in the region.”
The Tiamzons were arrested by joint operatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in Barangay Zaragoza, Aloguinsan, Cebu on Saturday afternoon, exactly a week before the 45th anniversary of the NPA.
Armed Forces chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista said Benito Tiamzon is the chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army while his wife Wilma is the secretary-general.
Bautista told a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo on Sunday that he hopes the leadership of the communist movement should “see the writing on the wall.”
But Sanchez said “the US-Aquino regime is daydreaming when it says the arrest spells the demise of the revolutionary movement. The NPA-SMR is ever resolute to advance the guerrilla war to a higher stage because the roots of armed conflict are firmly embedded in a region heavily militarized by the fascist troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”
The NPA-Southern Mindanao has been active in several offensives against the military.
Sanchez claimed that three sub-regional units of the NPA “have inflicted 54 casualties” against the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 39th, 57th and 71st infantry battalions in the last two months.
He warned they will “continue to outwit and outmaneuver the Eastern Mindanao Command whose Special Operations Teams are intensifying their hamletting in the countryside” and conduct “widespread and intensive tactical offensives to hit the Aquino regime’s armed forces whenever and wherever in the Southern Mindanao territory.”
“It will seize more arms, inflict mounting casualties and accelerate the formation of more NPA platoons,” Sanchez vowed.
On February 27, three police security personnel of Mayor Jaime Mahimpit of President Roxas, in Barangay Datu Inda, President Roxas, North Cotabato, were injured in an ambush by the NPA.
In a press statement on March 1, Isabel Fermiza, spokesperson of the NPA’s Mt. Apo Sub-regional Command, claimed the ambush did not target the mayor. “When the mayor’s gray Pajero car passed through the road, NPA operatives switched on the command-detonated explosives against 14 policemen in motorcycles and the military aboard a 6×6 truck who were closely following the mayor.”
On Mach 2, five volunteers of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) of Davao del Sur were hurt by a landmine detonated by the NPA while traversing Sitio Tower, Brgy. Managa, Bansalan, Davao del Sur at around 7:30 pm.
The three-ambulance convoy led by the Philippine Red Cross Davao Chapter’s Winston Malinao was supposed to pick up and evacuate the wounded soldiers of 39th Infantry Battalion who figured in an encounter with the NPA in the barangay early morning.
A press statement from the Eastern Mindanao Command claimed that based on reports from civilians, the Menandro Villanueva alias Nelson, reportedly the secretary of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee of the CPP/NPA ordered the detonation.
The EastMinCom press statement said that since 2010, a total of “460 NPA landmines exploded,” killing 128 persons, injuring 340 and destroying civilian and government facilities in Eastern Mindanao.
In a press statement on March 5, Sanchez said the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Command “issues this apology for launching a counter-offensive ambush against the 39th Infantry Battalion March 2 at 7 p.m. that hit an ambulance and injured four rescuers in Brgy. Managa, Bansalan, Davao del Sur.”
“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 the international humanitarian law,” Sanchez said, adding they ordered a “full investigation and if complete data and evidence warrant, promise to undertake appropriate measures and impose disciplinary actions against the responsible NPA unit.”
Twelve days later, on March 17, Rubi del Mundo, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao Region (NDFP-SMR) said the regional council has issued an order to indemnify the five medical responders who were injured in the March 2 landmine blast.
“The order acts upon the apology and recommendations submitted by the Southern Mindanao Regional Command of the New People’s Army,” Del Mundo said.
The March 24 press statement accused the Aquino administration of deploying troops under Oplan Bayanihan, “to militarize the peasant villages and open it for further imperialist plunder.”
“Ironically, after boasting that several provinces in the region are insurgency-free, the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command augmented its troops with a new Army division, and the deployment of the 9th Infantry Battalion in Compostela Valley, the 68th Infantry Battalion and the 4th Special Forces in Davao del Norte and Bukidnon boundary,” it said.
Sanchez blamed the military for “the spate of aerial bombing in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, and in Maco, Compostela Valley” and said its Peace and Development Outreach Program is “disrupting the lives of civilian peasants and Lumads in Paquibato, Maco, Magpet, Tulunan, Makilala and Compostela, through its legalized hamletting and immersion activities.”
He said the troops have been violating human rights as “mercenary protectors of imperialist and local big business.”
He said the NPA is “always open for any cooperation with the people when it comes to
protecting their rights, defending their lands, and inflicting blows against the fascist enemy that wreak havoc to their lives.”
He urged members of the paramilitary CAFGU (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) who, he claimed, are driven to join the paramilitary group “because of extreme poverty,” to turn their backs “and serve and defend their poor class” instead. (MindaNews)