ROME, Italy—Amidst the standing unilateral ceasefire declaration by the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, a New People’s Army guerrilla fighter and eight government troops were killed in a government operation in Makilala, North Cotabato on Saturday.
Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao said government troops arrived around 5:00 am Saturday in Sitio Concepcion, Barangay Kisante in Makilala town.
He said the troops launched offensive operations in Sitio Lokatong, Barangay Biangan where an NPA unit was staying.
Sanchez said the NPAs maneuvered to avoid encounter.
“At around 5:00 pm the 39th IB troops caught up with Red fighters and engaged them in an hour-long firefight which martyred one guerrilla fighter,” Sanchez said.
He added eight government troops were killed in the encounter.
The NPA fighter identified the casualty as 33-year-old Rojit Ranara.
The 10th Infantry Division also confirmed that the recovered war materiel in the area belong to the NPAs under the Guerrilla Front 51.
“The confirmation came after the PNP SOCO (Scene of the Crime Operatives) processed the incident site and examined the recovered cadaver of a dead man and war items which include three high-powered rifles, three improvised explosive devices, 15 backpacks loaded with personal belongings, two handheld radios, assorted medical supplies and several subversive documents,” the Army said.
The Army also said that several “extortion letters signed by a certain Ricardo Fermiza,” an NPA spokesman, were also recovered.
The Army said around 2:10 p.m. of Friday, Jan. 20, the office of Santos Land Development Corporation (SLDC) reported to the Makilala police that a company driver, identified as Delio V Tongcos was harassed by four armed men riding in tandem on-board two motorcycles at Purok Pili Nut, Barangay Malasila, Makilala, North Cotabato.
“The driver of the ten-wheeler truck reported that the armed men fired at him and threatened that the management will suffer the consequences if they fail to give in to their extortion demands. After which, the armed men forcibly took the key of the said truck and escaped immediately,” it said.
It added that the police immediately responded and requested the assistance of the military for the pursuit of the armed extortionists who escaped towards Barangay Biangan.
However, the Army denied the allegations that eight soldiers also died during the incident.
“The 10ID invites the public to scrutinize the records of the Makilala (Municipal Police Station), interview the people around the encounter site and check on all hospitals and funeral parlors in Regions 11 and 12 to determine who is telling the truth,” it said.
Meanwhile, Sanchez said the 39th IB troops did not abide the GRP’s unilateral ceasefire since late August last year.
“A mere week following the GRP declaration, it dispatched peace and development outreach program (PDOP) teams in barangay halls, health centers and schools in Kidapawan City, Pres. Roxas, Magpet and Arakan municipalities in North Cotabato,” Sanchez said.
“It, likewise, continued to mobilize its troops and paramilitaries in various forms of combat operations such as intelligence gathering, combat and psywar in far-flung areas that resulted in harassments; extra-judicial killings of civilians Rita and Norberto Gascon on September 13 in Arakan and Rolan Malignan on November 22 and the enforced evacuation of several families in Magpet on December 6,” Sanchez added.
NDFP peace consultant Porferio Tuna told Davao Today that the situation should be addressed in the third round of talks happening here until Wednesday.
“This has to be addressed in the third round of talks with the loud cry of the people for the continuous violation of the unilateral ceasefire which the GRP declared. The people has not benefited from the ceasefire because of the continuing military operation in the countrysides,” he said. (davaotoday.com)