CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/06 January) – Floods and landslides caused by torrential rains might have extended de facto the ceasefire between the government and the National Democratic Front as both government soldiers and New People’s Army guerrillas had claimed to have mobilized their units for disaster relief operations.
Benito Ramos himself, the executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) has formally requested the armed forces to suspend military operations in areas affected by floods and landslides.
In Mindanao, floods and landslides have been reported in many areas across Caraga Region, and parts of Compostela Valley, Lanao del Norte in Northern Mindanao, and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Major General Victor Felix, 4th Infantry Division Commander has ordered the mobilization of all disaster response units in Caraga.
According to 4th ID deputy spokesperson Major Noli Kanashiro, as early as January 2, the 36th Infantry Battalion had responded to reports of flooding along the low-lying areas in the municipalities of San Miguel and Tago in Surigao del Sur after the Tago River overflowed.
The 36IB then sent support and rescue teams to the areas affected especially after some barangay roads became impassable due to landslides and flashfloods.
The disaster rescue team from Bravo Company of the 30IB composed of 12 enlisted personnel and two KM450 vehicles were dispatched to help augment the existing Surigao City rescue unit. They evacuated a total of 47 families (203 individuals) from barangay Rizal, San Juan and Washington in Surigao City.
The NPA, which is active in the Caraga Region, also announced that “Red fighters have been assisting flood victims.”
“Given the severity of the damage wrought by these recent disasters upon the masses, the revolutionary forces in flood and landslide affected areas are prioritizing disaster relief operations in order to ensure the safety of communities and help affected families recover,” said Marco Valbuena, Communist Party of the Philippines media officer.
Obviously peeved by the audacity of the communist rebels who celebrated their 42nd anniversary last Dec. 26, 2010 in San Agustin town in Surigao del Sur with over a hundred media and about 3,000 supporters, the leadership of the 4th ID had vowed to capture NDF Mindanao spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos after the lapse of the Christmas truce.
Major Eugenio Julio Osias IV, commander of the 4th Civil-Military Operations Battalion, said that they are hoping to get Madlos with the resumption of the military operations against the NPA.
Osias said they have been directed by 4th ID commander Major General Felix to resume operations against in remote communities of Northern and Eastern Mindanao where the rebels are active.
Madlos, who is now in his 60s and a native of Siargao, Surigao del Norte, was described in a news report as the new face of Asia’s longest running communist rebellion with the long absence of CPP spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, a rebel leader based in Luzon.
Madlos was a student leader in Central Mindanao University in Bukidnon before joining the underground movement after Martial Law was declared in 1971.
Meanwhile, as of 12 noon Thursday, the NDRRMC reported that 18 people were confirmed to have perished due to floods and landslides in Mindanao. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)