Notwithstanding the self-serving projection of Gen. Hermogenes Esperon about the impending defeat of the revolutionary forces due to the Armed Forces of the Philippine’s Oplan Bantay Laya campaign, recent incidents in Southern Mindanao and elsewhere underscore the reality of the opposite and provide an accurate picture of things: the armed revolutionary struggle holds politico-military initiative and is able to sustain its advance.
This, as the ruling elite continue to ravage the national patrimony, livelihood and lives of our people while engaging in factional political strife founded on the battles for economic spoils and in preparation for 2010 and aimed at consolidating a corrupt regime whose survival is determined by AFP generals and dirty traditional politicians.
In less than two weeks after making his “bloody” characterization of his extended term of office, various units of the Merardo Arce Command-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army inflicted at least 46 casualties on the AFP and PNP during several tactical offensives in Tagum City in Davao del Norte, Boston and Baganga in Davao Oriental and Compostela, Nabunturan and New Bataan in Compostela Valley.
In Brgy. San Agustin, Tagum City, elements of Task Force Raptor were engaged by a unit of the Armando Dumandan Command-Front 33 resulting in the death of two army troopers and wounding of three others. In Brgy. Carmen, Boston, Sgt. Miranda of the 72nd IB-AFP was fatally hit during a harassment operation conducted by the Conrado Heredia Command-Front 20 against an army detachment. As AFP and PNP operations continued deep inside guerrilla bases, a member of the 1102nd Provincial Mobile Group was killed and 10 others injured when a team of the 5th Pulang Bagani Company-NPA fired upon the enemy unit. Two days later, the 67th IB-AFP suffered 18 casualties (8 killed and 10 wounded) and lost an M60 machine gun and two M16 rifles during joint ambush operations launched by Red fighters of Front 25 and Front 15 in Brgys. Kinablangan, San Victor and Campawan in Baganga. Punitive action was also launched by a unit of the Front 27-NPA against a psywar and intelligence operative of the PNP in Brgy. Bukal, Nabunturan. The 28th IB-AFP also had casualties as a column of its troops were hit by bullets from well-positioned guerrillas of Front 25 in Brgy. Andap, New Bataan.
Last Saturday, a big landlord who had long been active in providing logistical, financial and intelligence support to AFP units operating in the hinterland of Toril, Davao City was targeted by operatives of the Ka Paking Guimbaolibot Red Partisan Brigade-NPA. Despite repeated warnings to cease from his direct participation in counterrevolutionary activities and anti-people acts, Vicente Ferrazzini consciously and actively continued without let-up in his hostile actions. He aggressively supported and facilitated both in open and covert means the military operations conducted by the 73rd IB-AFP and Task Force Davao. Just this January, he went a notch further by facilitating the basing of one company of the 66th IB-AFP led by one Lt. Fernandez right inside their family-owned 96-hectare farm despite the strong opposition from residents. Clearly, this is a classical case of a convergence of feudal and semi-feudal interest with that of the military.
For obvious reasons, the AFP is hell bent in making “standard” distortions of the real score on the ground such as “over-run NPA camps”, “undetermined number of NPA casualties as evidenced by blood trails”, “tips from civilians”, “surrenderees”, “dismantled guerrilla fronts” and the like. Indeed, lies and half-truths only accentuate the failure of their adventurist all-out military offensive against a revolutionary movement which is deeply-rooted in the struggle of the oppressed and exploited for economic, political and social emancipation.
With regards to the remarks made by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte about civilian casualties, let it be known that “collateral damage” is not and will never be a policy of the NPA. While there where some instances that resulted in unintended damage to civilians during clashes with armed units of the AFP/PNP, these were promptly acknowledged, sincerest apologies were asked and indemnification given consistent with international humanitarian law. Corrective operational, organizational and political measures were also implemented to avoid similar occurrences. This is in sharp contrast to the policy and practice of the AFP of going after civilians especially during its retaliatory military operations inside guerrilla zones and bases. Notorious Esperon henchman Gen. Jovito Palparan even brazenly confirmed that the AFP takes no issue about “collateral damage” it being a part and parcel of its “counter-insurgency” drive.
Top AFP generals prior to Gen. Esperon have all made breast-pounding forecasts of the defeat of the revolutionary struggle during their watch only to be proven dead wrong. Gen. Esperon’s turn at being confronted with the truth has arrived earlier.
Rigoberto F. Sanchez
Merardo Arce Command
Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command
NEW PEOPLE’S ARMY