Soldiers Killed in NPA Offensives in 4 Months
arms confiscated in Abra province
armed group New People’s Army (NPA), in various statements, claims to have
killed and wounded as many as 118 government troops and carted off at
least 44 high-powered rifles in a series of offensives nationwide the past
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN
The New People’s Army (NPA) mounted a
number of offensives against military and police units in various regions
during the past four months, based on statements sent to media by the
Public Information Bureau of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP),
the regional NPA commands, newspaper and military accounts. The single
biggest operation that netted the highest number of arms was its June 4
raid of a military detachment in Abra, a province 408 kms north of Manila.
guerrillas dramatize a tactical offensive during the recent
celebration of the CPP's founding anniversary in a guerrilla zone in
PHOTO FROM PRWC WEBSITE
Guerrillas under the NPA’s Agustin
Begnalen Command in Abra overran early morning of June 4 the Philippine
Army’s 41st Infantry Battalion’s (IB) detachment in Brgy.
Tempo, Tubo town. The NPA wounded eight soldiers and seized 31
Police sources said that among those
wounded were: MSgt. Agullana; MSgt. Perez; Sgt. Mamugan; Corporal Tapaoan;
paramilitary Benido Kipas; and a certain paramilitary Benedicto.
The NPA offensive came in the wake of
government pronouncements that the military would be able to defeat the
insurgents in six to ten years.
In a news release e-mailed June 5 and
signed by Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan, spokesperson of the Cordillera
People’s Democratic Front (CPDF), the rebels said the military killed a
civilian identified as Linda Camiling. This was contrary to earlier
government troopers’ claim that the guerillas fired at civilians and used
them as shields.
“This happened because the 41st
IB violated the rules of war and insisted on using the Barangay Hall as a
detachment/patrol base, despite protests from the people,” the statement
In addition, Naogsan said the offensive
was in response to the intensifying militarization connected with the
incursions of foreign mining companies in the Cordillera.
“Ever since the Mining Act of 1995 was
declared constitutional, the U.S.-Arroyo regime has been aggressively
enticing mining applications and speeding up their approval through its
Mining Action Plan. The regime is baring the Cordillera for imperialist
mining corporations to rape, by eliminating all protections to the rights
of national minorities to their ancestral lands and natural resources.
Concomitant to this, the regime has militarized the Cordillera, especially
in areas of people’s resistance. The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines)
and CAFGU (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) are being used to pave
the way for the free entry of destructive mines,” the CPDF spokesperson
“The government's violation of
the right of the national minorities in the Cordillera to their ancestral
lands is part of national oppression, a denial of the people’s right to
self-determination,” he added.
Meanwhile, Naogsan also belied
the military’s claim that the NPA used civilians as shields in the Abra
raid, resulting in the death of a councilwoman and the wounding of two
other civilians. According to Naogsan, it was the military that had used
human shields – as proven, he said by the fact that the 41st IB
had set up its detachment in a village.
Two weeks earlier, on May 22, the
NPA’s Lejo Cawilan Command in Kalinga province (some 500 kms north of
Manila) raided a detachment of the army’s 21st IB in Balbalan
town. Three soldiers were killed in the ambush and three others were
wounded. There were no NPA casualties, according to Tipon Gil-Ayab,
spokesperson of the Lejo Cawilan Command.
According to Gil-ayab, the ambush
was in retaliation for what he described as the Army’s “atrocities against
human rights.” He cited in particular the killing of Bagtang Bulawit in
Kilayon village, Balbalan on Nov. 2, 2004. Gil-ayab said that Bulawit was
unarmed when captured and brutally tortured before being killed.
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
“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
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
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2004 Bulatlat
Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided
its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.