DAVAO CITY — The New People’s Army (NPA) said there is no truth to the report that the military has overrun an NPA camp in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte on March 14.
Maria Malaya, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDFP) in Mindanao said that the NPA-Front 16 reported that the camp allegedly overrun by government troops “was a camp abandoned by the comrades two months ago.”
“The camp was used for gatherings of the NPA Front 16 and their families last Christmas and New Year. Study meetings and trainings were also held there,” said Malaya in an emailed statement.
On March 17, a report from the Philippine News Agency said Army troops who were on combat patrol operations, “located a hastily abandoned major rebel camp along the border of Jabonga and Santiago municipalities of the said province on Wednesday morning (March 16).”
The camp can reportedly accommodate “more or less 400 persons.”
“It has a training and a formation area, 50 outposts, two hundred bunkers, a function hall, 20 kitchens and twenty comfort rooms,” the report said.
No such thing as permanent camps, says NPA
Malaya explained that based on the principle of guerilla warfare “the NPA does not establish permanent camps or structures.”
“They are mobile to enable them to cover wide areas to launch agrarian revolution, organize the masses, join production work, deliver social services and launch tactical offensives. They only stay for an extended time in one camp for studies and trainings of forces,” she said.
She said the NPA also clear the camps of structures before leaving.
“For this reason we were confounded by the statement of the (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to the media. We believe that the AFP troops built said structures to show to the media,” she said, adding that the media should also examine the said structures.
Malaya also described the Army’s description of the size of the said camp as a gross exaggeration, which, according to them, was 10 kilometers wide.
She said the NPAs in the Agusan area has never built a camp as big as that.
“By their statement, the AFP itself has belied their past declarations that the NPA in Caraga has greatly decreased in size. It is also a fact that this so called “biggest NPA camp in Caraga” is located in Agusan Norte which they just declared as ‘conflict manageable and ready for development’,” said Malaya.
On March 14, the Philippine National Police in Caraga and the AFP has signed a joint memorandum declaring Butuan City and Agusan del Norte province as Conflict Manageable and Ready for Further Development.
According to Lt. General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, the declaration “was based on the decreased penetration of CPP/NPA in the city and province.”
Malaya said prior to entering the abandoned camp “more than a hundred bombs were dropped by bomber planes of the Philippine Air Force and their canons were launched for several days which gravely harassed the Lumads and small miners in the area.”
“The AFP spent so much and greatly harassed the civilians just to satisfy the petty delight of the officials of the 29th IB, 401st Bde and 4th ID PA, for them to be able to show their “success” against the NPA,” said Malaya. (davaotoday.com)