DAVAO CITY – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines said it lost 14 New People’s Army members during a “simultaneous raid to crush three private army groups” Tuesday in Agusan del Sur.
Ka Maria Malaya, NDF- Northeastern Mindanao spokesperson, said in a statement they first attacked the “armed group of lumad Calpet (Calpito aka Datu Calpit) Egua in Sta. Irene, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.”
They also targetted Calpet’s companions in La Purisima, also in Prosperidad, and another “bandit” group in Barangay Bitan-agan, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur.
Police and Army authories reported that a total of 70 rebels attacked Egua’s group in Santa Ines early morning of July 15 which resulted to the death of 18 people.
Ka Malaya said that the “private armies were put-up with the help of Army, police and LGU (local government units) so Calpet can control the mining area of Manhulayan [Surigao del Sur] and all of them can make a profit [out of it].”
“When Calpet became a powerful warlord, he seized the area of other lumad and other mining businessmen. He was able to enlarge his private army to 60 [members] so he can expand and strengthen control logging and mining areas in the boundary of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur,” Malaya said.
Malaya accused Egua for being behind the “massacre, salvaging, rape and ambush of his own kin” and that his “military handlers were able to profit from him and use him as an anti-revolutionary force.”
“The attack against him (Egua) was to serve justice,” she said.
Malaya said that based on their initial report, the attack on Egua “resulted to the death of 10 Red fighters and one civilian driver” of the pick-up truck recovered in the incident while another NPA fighter was killed in the Army’s attack against the NPA’s “blocking force in Barangay Hamugaway, Bayugan City.”
Malayo also said that they were able to cart away “seven M16 rifles one M14 rifle and 2 handguns in the raid of another group of Calpet in La Purisima where another “NPA fighter was killed.”
Malaya claimed that in San Francisco town, “Renato Villaverde, the leader of the bandit group was killed and one carbine, one .45 calibre pistol and one 9mm KG (KG9) were confiscated.”
Malaya said Villaverde’s group was “responsible for drug pushing, theft, gun for hire and highway robbery.”
“The simultaneous attack of the NPA against the three private armies in Agusan den sur is part of the resolute stand of the NPA to crush all fascist private armies to defend the interest of the people,” said Malaya.
Malaya said the “Philippine government encourages the existence of private armies as these serve its interest for counterrevolutionary purposes.”
Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paniza, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command, in an interview denied that Egua’s men were members of a “private army.”
“They don’t want to leave their territory and so they chose they fight it out with the NPA. They applied for their firearms’ licenses but they do not bring these outside of their community. They have 15 firearms for the very purpose of defending their community,” he said.
Paniza said they were able to respond to the NPA’s attack because of the recently installed “Condition Situation Response System” which involved the Eastmincon and the PNP’s Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO)-Eastern Mindanao.
According to presentation during the signing of the CSRC last July 11 in Eastmincom Headquarters in Panacan, Davao City, the said system is “intel-driven” with four “alert levels” against “NPA threats.”
The operation of the CSRS, according to Lieutenant General Rainier Cruz, commanding general of the Eastmincon, is as basic as “sending three text messages to nearby police, military or civialian auxiliary units in case of an attack.”
Meanwhile, Malaya appealed to “concerned government agencies to extend the embalming of the dead Red fighters to a minimum of one week so we can have enough time to contact their families.”
She added that they “are ready to pay for the funeral expenses.”
Malaya also asked apologies to the “family of the civilian driver killed in the NPA operation” and to the owner of their rented vehicle, and promised to “find ways to pay for our financial obligations.”
“To the general public, we ask for your consideration to the hassles brought by the NPA operation. We are on a civil war where the NPA launches tactical offensive to crush the armed instrumentalities of exploitation and oppression,” said Malaya. (davaotoday.com)