Militiaman dies, 4 others hurt in NPA ambush in Davao Norte

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 July) – One member of the Cafgu Active Auxiliary of the 72nd Infantry Battalion was killed and four others were wounded when suspected members of the New People’s Army ambushed them on Wednesday in Sitio Kamunoan, Barangay Gupitan in Kapalong, Davao del Norte.

The ambush took place two days after the first State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo R. Duterte during which he declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippine-NPA-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).

Capt. Rhyan B. Batchar, chief of the Division Public Affairs of the 10th Infantry Division, said in a telephone interview that they continued to pull out their troops to abide with the ceasefire declaration despite the alleged attack by the NPA.

He said they advised their personnel who were still in the hinterlands to stay alert as the revolutionary forces were yet to respond to the president’s call call for a ceasefire.

“We continue to pull out our forces in their communities but because of the incident we have coordinated with the Philippine National Police for filing of appropriate charges against the perpetrators,” he said.

Batchar added they coordinated with the police in securing the communities and the ongoing government infrastructure projects.

He said the Cafgu members were heading back to their camp in Sitio Patil, Gupitan when the ambush occurred.

Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno, 1003rd Infantry Brigade commander, in a military press release, deplored the ambush but vowed to suspend military offensives against the NPA.

MGen Rafael Valencia, 10ID commander, also condemned the attack but “we shall continue to abide with the ceasefire, while we continue to secure the communities, vital installations and ongoing government flagship projects against any possible attack of the ALG (armed lawless group).”

In a statement issued after Monday’s SONA, NDFP spokesperson Luis Jalandoni welcomed the declaration of ceasefire and vowed to carefully study and make an appropriate response.

“Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of the Negotiating Panel fo the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), wrote today to Secretary Silvestre Bello III, chairman of the Negotiation Panel of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, welcoming President Duterte’s announcement in his SONA that he is ordering the unilateral ceasefire of the AFP and PNP in relation to the NPA,” the statement read.

He said that the NDFP “shared with President Duterte the determination to work for a just and lasting peace.”

The statement added that Jalandoni was looking forward to the resumption of formal talks in Oslo on August 20 to 27.

The government and NDFP peace panels are expected to talk on the mechanics of a bilateral ceasefire and and how to make it effective. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)