Davao City – Saying that they have all the time of the year for military operations, a leader of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines urged all Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) generals and commanders to allow their troops to go home and celebrate Christmas with their families as the rebels would also want to have a peaceful celebration with their families and friends.
According to NDF Mindanao spokesman Jorge Madlos, also known as Ka Oris, soldiers should be allowed to enjoy with their friends and loved ones this Christmas season.
“Hangyoon nato ang mga heneral nga papaulion na nila ang mga nag-operation sa bukid kay luoy kaayo. Siyempre Pasko karon, kung nakabakasyon unta sila tua sila sa ilang mga pamilya ug sama unta sab kanamo panahon sa Pasko ug bag-ong tuig mag-ipon-ipon sab ang mga NPA ug ang ilang mga ginikanan, mga igsoon aron saulogon ang tradisyon (We are requesting the generals to send their troops home to be with their families this Christmas. And like us, it is only during Christmas and New Year that the NPAs are united with their families to celebrate the tradition),” Madlos said during a radio interview with Radyo ni Juan Wednesday afternoon.
“Dili man malisud unta orderan sa Eastmincom commander, sa 4th ID commander, sa 6th ID commander, ang pagpapauli usa sa ilang tropa total daghan silag panahon sa tibuok tuig nga maglungsad og offensive operation batok sa NPA. Sa among kabahin daghan sab mig panahon, mao nga sa pagkakaron maglipay-lipay lang usa (It would not be difficult for the commanders of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), 4th Infantry Division, 6th Infantry Division, to send their troops home because they have a lot of time during the whole year to launch offensives against the NPA. On our part, we also have a lot of time, so for now, let us just enjoy the holidays),” he added.
Madlos’ appeal came as the NDF condemned the AFP’s violation of their own ceasefire declaration.
The AFP has declared a one month suspension of military operations (SOMO) which took effect on the midnight of December 19 until January 19 next year.
“Nabalaka mi kay wala nahimong effective ang ceasefire sa AFP (We are worried because the AFP’s declaration of ceasefire has not been effective),” Madlos said citing the incidents wherein the military launched military operations against the NPAs.
Last December 22, Simon Santiago, Political Director of the NPA Southern Mindanao Region command issued a similar statement condemning the AFP’s ceasefire violations.
Santiago said the continued operation of “Special Operations Team or peace and development teams violates and makes a mockery” of the government’s own ceasefire.
“The presence of the troops in these areas does not appear to be risk-free, undisruptive or inoffensive, but comprises actual offensive manoeuvres within and in the periphery of guerrilla territories,” Santiago said.
Their military’s occupation of civilian areas, according to Santiago, “is highly provocative and increases the risk of armed engagements with the Red fighters amid civilian-populated areas.”
Santiago cited the case in Barangay Catihan, Boston town, where 14 soldiers of the 67th IBPA occupy public places such as the multipurpose gym, houses, and videoke bars “while they intensify intelligence activities.”
“AFP troops who are operating in civilian areas either underhandedly or blatantly are on offensive combat operations and, except for those who are inside their detachments and outposts, shall be treated as legitimate targets by the NPA,” Santiago said.
In telling the AFP to stop its offensive military operations to observe the Yuletide season, Madlos pointed out that when the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) commemorate their anniversaries, the NPAs do not launch military actions to disrupt their activities.
“Maong isip paghangyo lang usab sa mga kaigsoonan nato nga general, mga battalion commander, mga brigade commander, nga unta siguruhon nila ang ilang mga pwersa nga madisiplina nila, mapasabot sa kamahinungdanon nga ang katawhan hatagan og higayon nga dunay malinawong pagsaulog sa pasko bagong tuig ug pagseguro nga walay mga kagubot panahon sa pagbisita sa Santo Papa (That’s why we appeal to them to ensure the discipline within their forces and to explain to them the importance of giving the people a chance to celebrate Christmas and New Year peacefully, and to ensure that there will be no clashes during the visit of the Pope next year),” said Madlos.
Madlos cited the killing of a barangay captain in Balit, San Luis last December 22. In a statement emailed to media last December 22, Omar Ibarra, spokesperson of the NPA Western Agusan Norte-Agusan Sur Subregional Command (WANAS) said Barangay Captain Nicasio “Angis” Precioso Sr was killed at around 8:00 am in Kilometer 2, Nuevo Trabajo, San Luis, Agusan del Sur.
Ibarra said Precioso was about to attend the Municipal Peace and Order Council Meeting (MPOC) on December 22 to discuss on the reported harassments of Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD) units in the barrios of San Luis.
While on December 23 there was also a straffing on a civilian residence by the paramilitaries which were organized by the AFP, said Madlos.
In a statement last December 23, Major Ezra Balagtey of the Eastmincom said the COPD “are community works promoting Bayanihan spirit through various activities in the community in order to facilitate development in the barangays and per SOMO guidelines Bayanihan Team Activites and other civic action program are not included in the prohibition.”
“Prior to the declaration of SOMO our COPDs are already in the different barangays conducting BAYANIHAN ACTIVITIES,” the statement said.
NDF, however, belied the military claims.
“Sa among tan-aw dili tinuod ni kay tungod kani nga grupo ilang ginaokupa ang sityo, mga barangay ug i-census nila ang mga tao, pugngan ang pag-adto sa uma, ug kung moadto sa uma tagaan lang daw nila og oras. Gipugngan nila ang flow sa suplay sa mga pagkaon kay kuno maadto sa mga NPA ug ang mga paghulga naa gyud. Mao gani kaning mga COPD mao gyud ang hinungdan nganong dunay daghang nagbakwit karon nga mga katawhan sa kabukiran (This (COPD) group occupies the sitios, barangays and conducts census in the community. They prohibit the residents from going to their farms or even if they were allowed, they were given limited time. They also stop the entry of supplies because they say it will be given to the NPAs, and the threats are there. The COPD units are the reason why there are many evacuees in the countrysides),” Madlos said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines announced last December 17 its declaration of ceasefire on the following dates: 12:01 a.m. of December 24, 2014 to 11:59 p.m. of December 26, 2014; 12:01 a.m. of December 31, 2014 to 11:59 p.m. of January 1, 2015; and 12:01 a.m. of January 15, 2015 to 11:59 p.m. of January 19, 2015. (davaotoday.com)