Gov’t upholds ‘no negotiation policy’ as kin call for abducted soldiers’ release

Marje Pelayo   •   January 29, 2019   •   1330

Members of the New People’s Army | Photo courtesy of Kodao Phils.

BUTUAN CITY, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has intensified its pursuit operations against members of New People’s Army (NPA) in Agusan del Sur who abducted government troopers on December 19, 2018.

Two active soldiers and 13 members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) were kidnapped by the communist rebels in the town of Remedios Y Romualdez in the municipality of Sibagat last year.

Relatives of the victims continue to call on the government to facilitate the immediate rescue of their loved ones.

Magdalena Lamion, the daughter of one of the captives, Bienvenido Lamion, is worried about her father’s health and so she asks for their immediate release.

“Marami nang balita na sinasabing pinatay na raw. Nananawagan kami na tumugon sana ang gobyerno na pahintulutan sila na pakawalan na talaga sila,” the distressed daughter appealed.

“Tulungan ninyo na maka uwi ang aking anak,” Elena Cariño, the mother of one of the two soldiers,  called on President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement issued by Major General Ronald Villanueva, the Philippine Army 4ID Commander maintained that the military will uphold its ‘no negotiation policy’ with the NPA.

Nevertheless, the authorities are doing everything for the safe release of the captives. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Raymond Octobre)

Duterte’s P2-M bounty vs. NPA commanders ‘will result in the murder of many innocent people’ — Sison

Marje Pelayo   •   May 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria ‘Joma’ Sison warned on Tuesday (May 12) that President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer of P2 million bounty for the capture of New People’s Army (NPA) commanders will only lead to further loss of ‘innocent civilians.’

“With this kind of offer, we can expect his armed minions to manufacture more NPA commanders so that they will receive the cash reward as they have from previous fake surrenders and fake encounters,” Sison said in a post on Facebook.

“We can expect more murders being committed by military and police officers against innocent civilians who are misrepresented as NPA commanders,” he added.

President Duterte in a briefing announced his offer to anyone who would be lead the authorities to the capture of an NPA leader or commander following another series of attacks against government troops in humanitarian missions.

“Like his previous order to shoot dead any violator of the lockdown, his order to kill NPA commanders will result in the murder of many innocent people,” Sison later added.

The communist leader also noted that the President allegedly “does not care that he will go down in history as a butcher of the Filipino people.”

Sison reiterated that President Duterte is just using the NPA to cover up his administration’s ‘gross incompetence and failure’ in the fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) citing the lack of mass testing and contact-tracing and the increasing number of health workers dying of the virus due to lack of personal protective gear.

READ: Duterte offers P2-M bounty for the capture of NPA commanders

“Duterte has made a rambling and inane multi-media broadcast every week during the lockdown but he has not given any rational plan for the use of 275 billion pesos. And there has been no accounting of the disbursement of these funds,” he said.

Duterte’s new martial law threat, a cover-up for failed COVID-19 response — CPP

Marje Pelayo   •   April 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – In response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s outburst over continued attacks against government forces, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Friday (April 24) accused the Chief Executive of just using the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to carry out his agenda of imposing martial law.

On its website, the communist group stressed that the President is again blaming its armed wing – the New People’s Army (NPA) – ‘to cover up’ his administration’s failure in responding to the current health crisis particularly the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing.

“This is a classic deflection tactic to draw away the people’s attention from the government’s inept, incompassionate and irresponsible actions in the face of the pandemic,” the group said.

The CPP said imposing martial law will not end the pandemic but only cause ‘greater hardship’ to the Filipino people.

The group alleged that the extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that has been expanded to cover Visayas and Mindanao is martial law.

“There is now creeping nationwide martial law and the entire country is now effectively under the highhanded and control of the military and police,” the CPP noted.

READ: Duterte threatens to declare martial law if NPA attacks continue

The leftist group defended the NPA over the recent encounters with government troops saying the group was only responding to the attacks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) since it has further stepped up its counterinsurgency operations.

“The armed clashes between the NPA and the AFP in the past days are a result of the attacks of the AFP and active defense of the NPA,” the group said.

“In fact, the AFP never went on ceasefire, even when Duterte ordered a suspension of offensive operations last March 19 to April 15, deploying troops to more than 350 barangays and 120 towns to conduct counterinsurgency, mounting at least 24 offensives and six aerial bombardments,” it added.

The CPP accused that such intensified counterinsurgency efforts by the AFP are aimed at preventing the NPA from conducting its own public health campaign in response to the COVID-19 crisis in areas where the Duterte government ‘does not exist’ and their efforts are warmly received.

Nevertheless, the party said it stands by the ceasefire order of its Central Committee that has been extended to April 30 to prioritize its own public health campaign in their villages.

While so doing: “All units of the NPA must, however, remain vigilant and on high alert against attacks of the AFP and ready to engage in battle,” the group concluded.

Young NPA fighter thankful for being saved by the ‘enemy’

Marje Pelayo   •   November 6, 2019

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Rebel combatant alias ‘Kent’ was lost for words over his experience in the hands of his “enemies” – the soldiers of the 29th Infantry Battalion – after an encounter in San Isidro, Santiago, Agusan del Norte.

‘Kent’ sustained three gunshot wounds during the crossfire on November 2.

The soldiers captured him as he could no longer walk due to his injury.

He thought that was the end for him.

“Naka-set na sa isip ko na papatayin ako talaga kasi susuko (I set my mind that I would be killed if I surrender),” he said in his local dialect.

“Ang sabi nila kapag may giyera, papatayin ka kapag nahuli ka ng Army (They say in war, you will be killed if the Army captures you),” he added.

But to his surprise, the soldiers brought him to a nearby hospital and while gasping for air, he heard the soldiers telling him to hold on and try to survive.

The young NPA fighter is now recovering from his wound while the military is working on the possible assistance he may receive once he officially decommissions from the rebel group.

“Ang una nating ginagawa ngayon ay maka recover muna siya (What we are focusing on first is his recovery),” said Maj. Francisco Garelllo, the spokesperson of the 402 Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army who handles the case of alias Kent.

‘Kent’ was recruited to the New People’s Army (NPA) when he was only 16 years old.

He realized he spent his two years fighting for the wrong side.

He said he has decided to return to the government and start a new life with his family.

 “Sinasabi naman nila sa akin na, ‘Dapat mabuhay ka kasi sisikapin naming mabuhay ka,’” Kent said of the soldiers who rescued him.

“Kaya pinilit ko ring maka-survive,” he concluded. – MNP (with reports from Dante Amento)

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