Gil-ayab also said that the Lejo Cawilan Command was able to seize two M-16 rifles in the ambush.
Meanwhile, Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, spokesperson of NDF-Mindanao, said in a June 3 statement that the operations of the Army’s 4th ID in Surigao del Sur had “backfired.” Instead of clearing the province of rebels, the military suffered 60 fatalities from March 27 to May 15.
The military operation was called “Oplan Nazareth,” aimed to clear the province of NPA guerrillas and remove obstacles to large-scale mining and logging, said Madlos.
“The AFP lost heavily in five battle incidents since April 3 to May 12, between five battalions of AFP troops and utterly outnumbered NPA guerillas along the borders of the municipalities of Marihatag, San Agustin, Lianga, San Miguel and Tago, Surigao del Sur,” Madlos said. “There were more than 60 dead AFP personnel including two army lieutenants and an undetermined number of wounded. Although the AFP seized NPA stocks of explosives and ordnance equipments, there was no NPA casualty.”
Southern Command authorities have denied the report.
Still in Mindanao, the NPA’s 1st Pulang Bagani Command ambushed May 14 the combined forces of the Army’s 26th IB and 8th IB in Kitaotao, Bukidnon, killing four soldiers and wounding four others.
Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of NPA-Southern Mindanao’s Merardo Arce Command said the ambush caught the AFP by surprise, trapping them in an unfavorable terrain where their combat maneuvers were limited.
“The Red fighters held the initiative during the entire three-hour fight that several enemy troops, wounded and demoralized, relayed their intention to surrender. An M14 rifle and numerous military logistics were seized from the fascists,” he said. He also said the NPA suffered two casualties.
The ambush was met with force by the AFP, according to Sanchez. He said the AFP is “clearly hurting” and in a rampage now in the hinterlands of Davao City and Bukidnon.
Meanwhile, Sanchez said indiscriminate shelling from 105 howitzers and aerial bombardment from MG520 attack helicopters went on unabated, victimizing entire Lumad and peasant communities
“What the enemy gets to achieve during these operations is spread far and wide state terrorism, fascism and counterrevolution, and strike fear and terror among the peasants and Lumads,” he said.
The next day, NPA guerrillas belonging to the Julito Tiro Command raided a detachment of the 29th IB in San Luis, Agusan del Sur. An Army soldier and two CAFGU fighters were wounded, according to Cesar Renerio, spokesperson of NDF-North Central Mindanao.
Renerio also related that a number of the CAFGU men jumped off a cliff, leaving behind their arms and other military supplies.
Other offensives were reported in Isabela (April 12), Quezon (April 4), Bulacan (April 26), Negros Occidental (April 29) and Samar (april 8), where a total of 31 government troops were killed.
Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz said two months ago that the NPA, which is on its 36th year, remains the country’s top national security threat. Military authorities have confirmed reports that the NPA has recovered its lost ground but is launching offensives to say that it is still a force to reckon with.
The NPA claims it operates in 130 guerrilla fronts covering 70 or nearly all of the country’s provinces.
Government is trying to forge peace with another guerrilla organization, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) based mainly in southern Philippines, in order to concentrate on the NPA.
Government peace talks with the NPA’s revolutionary front, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, has been on recess for more than a year in Norway, with the NDFP accusing the Arroyo administration of reneging from its commitment to work for the scrapping of the NPA from the “terrorist list” of some foreign countries. Bulatlat