DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 8 Jan) –The New People’s Army (NPA) had claimed launching five attacks against government forces in Davao Oriental from December 28 to 30 that left 24 soldiers and one rebel dead, and two soldiers wounded.
The military, however, denied that government troops sustained heavy casualties.
In a statement released on January 7, NPA spokesperson Rigoberto F. Sanchez said NPA forces launched three attacks last December 28 against the 28th Infantry Battalion and Scout Rangers Company in Sitios Gibaan and Bato-Bato in Barangay Tubaon, Tarragona municipality where he claimed 16 soldiers were killed and two others wounded.
Maj. Ezra Balagtey, public information officer of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), said in a text message that two soldiers were wounded in that encounter.
Sanchez said that two days later, the NPA clashed with government forces in Sitio Madian, also in Barangay Tubaon, which resulted in the killing of eight soldiers and one rebel.
Balagtey admitted that two soldiers died in that encounter and two more wounded.
In Barangay Marayag in Lupon, Sanchez said the NPA attacked the military at noon on December 29.
He claimed the military detained for three days 10 farmers who were abused “physically and psychologically.”
The NPA announced a ceasefire declaration effective 6 p.m. of December 23 to 6 p.m. of December 26 and 6 p.m. of December 30 until 6 p.m. of January 2, in response to the government-declared ceasefire in observance of Christmas and New Year festivities.
The NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) had been designated as terrorist organizations with Proclamation No. 374 signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte last December 5 pursuant to Republic Act No. 10168, also known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2002.
Ednar Dayanghirang, chief of staff of Davao Oriental Gov. Nelson Dayanghirang, said Monday that they intend to “reintroduce government” to people living in the province’s outskirts by pouring in assistance that address poverty in the area.
He added the provincial government seeks to lower poverty incidence in the province from 22 percent at present to 15 percent by year 2022, or the end of term of President Duterte.
He said efforts had been done in previous administrations targeted at lowering poverty rates but yielded minimal effect.
Dayanghirang said government efforts this time will be focused on targeted areas by using the National Housing Targeting System that locates the poorest of the poor.
He said they found out that most of the poorest of the poor are living within the 12 identified ancestral domains (AD), which comprise 67 percent of Davao Oriental’s total land area of 568,000 hectares.
He added that NPA atrocities take place in areas with high poverty incidence, and the provincial government intends to penetrate these areas to extend support and “reintroduce government” to residents.
Dayanghirang claimed many of these residents have “forgotten” the government, which may have aggravated the peace and order situation in the outskirts of the province.
He said fisherfolks would also be given priority in the government program to alleviate poverty. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)