DAVAO CITY (Updated 9:15 PM) – The Philippine military on Monday, February 8, said it is escalating its security operations in Davao region amid a series of armed confrontations with the New People’s Army (NPA).
Captain Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the military’s 10th Infantry Division, said its 46th and 73rd infantry battalions (IB) are still conducting pursuit operations against the NPAs in their respective areas of operation.
“A number of armed confrontations between government forces and the NPA rebels were recorded after the 10th ID intensified its security operations in its areas of jurisdiction,” said Batchar.
Infantry battalions are sub-units of a military’s infantry division whose main role is to engage in counter-guerrilla operations.
Timeline of clashes
On February 6, elements of Bravo Company of the 73rd IB engaged a group of fully armed NPA rebels belonging to guerrilla front 71 of the Far South Mindanao Region in the boundaries of Jose Abad Santos town in Davao Occidental and Glan, Sarangani, Batchar confirmed.
He added that the second encounter took place on the same date, at around 2:30 p.m. in Sitio Binotaam, Barangay Kingking, Pantukan, Compostela Valley province when troopers belonging to the 46th IB engaged in an escaping group of NPA troops belonging to Guerrilla Front 2 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) led by a certain Alias Raden.
On February 7, another armed encounter that lasted for six minutes took place between the elements of 46th IB and NPA rebels in Sitio Logpaton, Barangay Kingking, Pantukan at around 3:00 pm.
Both sides claim success
There were no soldiers hurt in the said incidents, said Batchar, “while the NPAs were believed to have suffered casualties.”
On the other hand, the NPA claimed their three separate offensives on February 3, 2016 have already yielded 30 casualties on the side of the government forces.
Major General Rafael Valencia, 10th ID’s commander, reiterated the command’s relentless campaign against the NPAs.
“We encourage NPA members to abandon the armed struggle and return to the folds of the law. But for those who continue to choose the path of violence, we will vigorously pursue and defeat them using legitimate force,” Valencia said.
The NPA has been carrying out tactical offensives as they said it is punishing the military for the alleged human rights abuses against small-scale miners, among these occurring in Pantukan.
They maintain that the military is behind the killing of 60-year-old Teresita Navacilla, said Danniel Ibarra, spokesperson of the NPA’s Comval Davao Gulf Subregional Command.
“The offensives are fitting reprisal to serve revolutionary justice for the extra-judicial killing of Teresita Navacilla,” said Ibarra.
A January 30 police report said personal grudge could be the assailant’s motivation in killing the victim, but activists pointed out that the 60-year-old’s vocal opposition against large scale mining in Mindanao is yet to be considered as an angle. (davaotoday.com)