DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao claimed Sunday, January 7, that it killed at least 26 soldiers in different gunbattles in December but claimed that it happened outside its self-declared ceasefire for the Christmas season.
Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA Southern Mindanao Operations Command, said the government casualties were a result of guerrilla attacks against the government soldiers last month.
Sanchez claimed such attacks were an “active defense against ceasefire and human rights violations of AFP troops.”
The NPA spokesperson elaborated that it attacked soldiers belonging to the 28th and 66th Infantry Battalion (IB) and Scout Rangers Company in Barangay Tubaon, Tarragona, Davao Oriental.
This was because the troops launched operations in the same village even before the ceasefire began on December 23, 2017, said Sanchez, who denied a military statement that the NPA harrassed a militia post on December 25 last year.
Three days after Christmas Day, December 28, Sanchez said the NPA killed 16 troops in Sitios Gibaan and Bato-bato. Two soldiers were wounded.
Eight more troops from the 28th IB and Scout Rangers were ambushed on December 30 in Sitio Madian, where “they were lured deep into the NPA’s active defense plan,” said Sanchez.
He also added that NPA fighters launched a harrassment operation against 66th IB troops on December 29 in Barangay Marayag.
Sanchez alleged that in the same village troops detained some 10 farmers and “subjected them to physical and psychological torture.”
“The tactical offensive against the rabid armed forces serve to underscore the growing demand to overthrow Rodrigo Duterte from power,” he said.
There was no truce at the time the NPAs led the reported attacks as the CPP only ordered its armed wing to cease its operations against troops on December 23-26, 2017 and December 30, 2017, to January 2, 2018, in time for the holidays. (davaotoday.com)