69th IB not Sara was our target — NPA

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 February) — The Communist New People’s Army (NPA) said they targeted the 69th IB troops, not Mayor Sara Duterte, in a January 30 ambush in Paquibato that wounded a soldier.

“Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte was not the target of the command-detonated explosive (CDX)-ambush carried out by the first Pulang Bagani Company of the NPA,” said an emailed statement signed by Kumander Parago, the nom de guerre of NPA leader Leoncio Pitao.

“The successful tactical offensive was directed against a supply unit of the 69th Infantry Battalion who had launched a massive combat and full blown military operation all over Paquibato,” it said.

The statement also chided 10th ID spokesperson Lt. Col. Joshua Santiago for “ludicrously referring” to the 69th IB supply team as “advance security forces for Sara Duterte.”

Parago said referring to the 69th IB as such only masked the battalion’s continuous full-scale operations in Paquibato since January 10.

”The January 30 CDX ambush could not have targeted Sara Duterte as the blast happened in Purok 5, Barangay Mapula along an interior, mountainous and isolated route,” Parago said in the statement.

He said the site of the ambush is far away from the actual route and destination of the mayor, which is in Barangay Paquibato Proper.

“Sara Duterte’s uninformed pronouncements could only suggest that she is unaware of the combat operations in Paquibato and the mounting human rights violations of the 10th ID-AFP,” said the statement.

“It also appears that she is unaware of the NPA’s punitive actions against the abusive 69th IB-AFP,” it added.

Parago also said “it is not in the best interest of the NPA to attack civil servants like Duterte who has constantly worked for dialogue between the government and the rebels in areas like Paquibato,” where he said, “poor peasants have been at the receiving end of the 10th ID’s brutality.”

Instead, the NPA renewed its invitation to the mayor to visit Paquibato and see for herself the conditions of the poor.

”Inday Sara is always welcome in the Paquibato base areas,” Parago said.  ”The revolutionary mass base looks forward to her visits and assures her safety.”

The group, however, warned the mayor against tagging along with soldiers during the visit.

“As in the past, the Davao City Mayor need not tag along an entourage of heavy military escorts just to deliver social services to the people because the revolutionary mass base and the People’s Democratic Government shall be her protection.”

“The revolutionary movement once again cordially invites Mayor Inday Sara to come to the Davao base areas.  It would be a good opportunity for her to learn and see for herself the sad plight of the people,” the statement said. (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)