By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — The unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) involved in Davao del Sur encounter maintained that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) violated its own ceasefire and deceived its commander-in-chief President Rodrigo Duterte.
Aris Francisco, spokesperson of the NPA Comval North Davao South Agusan Sub-Regional Command, said in a statement that they only thwarted a military offensive by the Civilian Auxilliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) of the 72nd Infantry Battalion and Alamara paramilitary troops in Bagnakan,sitio Muling, barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, July 27.
The ambush, Francisco said, was in adherence to the directive by the NPA National Operations Command for Red fighters to maintain on alert status and on active defense mode.
“Had the Red fighters not taken the initiative to actively defend itself by intercepting the 72nd IB/Alamara troops, the operating AFP troops would have carried out its own combat action and inflicted damage against the NPA unit,” Francisco said.
On July 28, Thursday, Duterte warned he would cancel the unilateral ceasefire he declared during his first state of the nation address (SONA) if the NPA would fail to provide an explanation.
Francisco added that the the same troops ignored Duterte’s ceasefire declaration and took off for combat operation from their detachment in barangay Patil on July 26.
“In twisting the facts presented to their commander-in-chief, the AFP is leaving out the glaring truth that the its troops were clearly on combat operation and not engaged in ‘civilian’ activities, in direct violation to GRP Pres. Duterte’s ceasefire order,” Francisco said.
The NPA further said that Duterte, having acted as mediator on several occasions in the past regarding the abuses perpetrated by the Alamara against the Lumads in Kapalong, knows well how the AFP employs the paramilitary Alamara in its counter-revolutionary and anti-people campaign.
The NPA said the Lumad, who since late last year have evacuated to Davao City, are still in fear of returning to their homes and communities because of the presence of AFP troops and the Alamara.
The NPA further said it abides with the spirit of the resumption of the peace negotiations in addressing the roots of the civil war, respects the ceasefire order of Duterte, and strictly adheres to the directive of the national leadership and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
A day after Duterte’s SONA, the CPP ordered the NPA guerillas to maintain an active defense mode. The CPP said Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire declaration is a positive boost to the NDFP-GRP peace talks scheduled for August 20 to August 27.