Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 18      June 12 - 18, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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99 Soldiers Killed in NPA Offensives in 4 Months
30 arms confiscated in Abra province

The revolutionary 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 four months.


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.

OFFENSIVE: NPA guerrillas dramatize a tactical offensive during the recent celebration of the CPP's founding anniversary in a guerrilla zone in Bicol.


Abra raid

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 high-powered rifles.

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 read.

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 said.

“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 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.

Security threat

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




© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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