NPA’s Santiago said that the March 8 ambush “was to give justice to the victims of the 84th IB and its use of Lumad vigilantes in its current intensive military operations.”
By MARILOU AGUIRRE-TUBURAN
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The New People’s Army (NPA) has claimed of killing three soldiers and wounding eight others in an ambush March 8 against a composite team of the 84th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Cafgus and lumad vigilante group Blackfighters in Carmen village, Baguio District, this city.
In a statement Sunday, Simon Santiago, political director of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Command, said its 2nd Pulang Bagani Company also confiscated two high-powered rifles.
Captain Nathaniel Morales of the 3rd Communication and Informations Company of the 10th Infantry Division, however, said only one soldier was killed, one Private First Class Cesar Atup, while two were wounded: Corporals Fernando Rosal and Roy Renan Marco Coles.
Morales, in a statement Saturday, said that what transpired was an encounter between the NPA and the Bravo Company of the 84th IB. He added that NPAs incurred “undetermined number of casualties.” However, this was not confirmed in the NPA statement.
Santiago also accused government troops for holding for several hours the employees of Puentespina flower garden as the soldiers were fleeing from the ambush site.
Morales said that one section of 18 enlisted personnel led by 2nd Lieutenant Maximo Trinidad, Jr., conducted a combat security patrol and clashed with the more than 30 NPAs for about 40minutes. Prior to the incident, he said, they received reports that NPAs were “allegedly coercing the civilians for support, especially to the lumads, for the promised protection of ancestral lands.”
Morales also accused the NPAs of “luring the people to participate in attacking and burning pineapple plantations of Del Monte and DOLE La Fortuna in the guise of implementing penalties for companies’ low compensation to employees and environmental destruction to justify their extortion activities.”
But NPA’s Santiago said that the March 8 ambush “was to give justice to the victims of the 84th IB and its use of Lumad vigilantes in its current intensive military operations.”
He said “military offensives” started last February 27 in the villages of Cadalian, Tambobong, Tawan-tawan, Carmen and Tamayong, “hampering preparations of the civilians for the forthcoming Araw ng Dabaw celebration.”
Santiago said that the Army “has backed and armed” a certain Pastor Ceasar Malinaw, “to lead the indigenous people’s for counterrevolutionary operations.”
The combat and special operations team of the AFP, Santiago said, has “blatantly used local Lumad opportunist leaders to resurrect the notorious Black Fighter vigilantes,” adding that “it has also shamelessly used the Philippine Eagle Foundation as front for its reconnaissance activities.”
Recently, the NPA arrested and detained for a day five “civilian assets” who identified themselves as forest guard volunteers of the PEF. They also claimed of killing a “military spy” (see related story).
“The recent NPA ambush and the punishment of civilian military spy in Baguio district demonstrate the pursuit of revolutionary justice consistently upheld by the people’s army,” Santiago said. (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com)