By JORGE MADLOS (Ka Oris)
Spokesperson, NDFP Mindanao Chapter
In yet another record-breaking attempt to deceive the revolutionary movement and the people, the Armed Forces of the Philippines of the US-Aquino regime has declared a Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO) from 21 December 2013 to 15 January 2014 that, so far, has turned out to be a total sham.
Clearly, the objectives of the SOMO have been intended:
- to prevent the successful celebration across the country of the 45th anniversary of the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP-MLM) on 26 December 2013;
- to dupe the New People’s Army into lowering its guard so that it can take advantage of it and attack NPA units or arrest revolutionary cadres, including peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, as it did in their past SOMO declarations;
- to provoke the NPA to engage in fire fight within the six-day period of the NPA’s Christmas and New Year unilateral ceasefire, and attempt to isolate the NPA by way of its propaganda advantage in the media; and
- to project political and moral ascendancy over and against the much shorter unilateral ceasefire of the NPA.
The 45th CPP anniversary celebrations on 26 December have been marred by countless provocative AFP violations, such as setting up checkpoints at strategic entry and exit points that led towards places they suspected to be the site for the celebrations. The NPA units, however, together with the masses, allies and media persons, daringly and creatively managed to elude AFP surveillance, and successfully held the 45th anniversary celebrations in different parts of Mindanao.
In one incident, the 26th Infantry Battalion’s spot checkpoint in Talacogon, Agusan del Sur held and harassed the media men and other visitors coming from the celebration, and released them only after certain personnel from the media have trained their camera onto the AFP soldiers manning the checkpoint.
Subsequently, from 2 to 8 January 2014, in violation of the AFP’s own ceasefire, the 26th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army launched a three-column military operation against the NPA unit that hosted the 45th CPP anniversary celebration, covering several barangays (villages) and communities within the vicinity of the anniversary site, including forestal hinterland communities as far as 30 km inland along the Agusan river banks.
The NPA units have fought back by deploying several sniper and harassment teams. As a result, at 11:35 AM of 8 January, one NPA team caught up with a platoon column of the 26th Infantry Battalion as it crossed the steep banks of Mahaba Creek, Barangay Mahayahay, San Luis, Agusan del sur, wounding five 26th IB soldiers. Then at 2:00 AM the next day, the second AFP column was ambush-harassed in Km. 5, Barangay Balit, San Luis, Agusan del Sur by another NPA team, killing six soldiers and wounding seven more, including a (paramilitary) CAFGU member. Yet Maj. Canacero of the 26th IB had the gall to claim that they were not launching offensive military operations during the period covered by their declared SOMO, and worse, denied they suffered fatalities.
In all hypocrisy, AFP officials have claimed that Re-engineeredt Special Operations Teams and “Community Organizing for Peace and Development” (RSOT/COPD) operations are on-going to “keep the peace and promote development” in many barrios (villages) when in truth these are nothing but psy-war operations meant to harass community-folk, identify local activists, destroy the revolutionary unity among the people, conduct surveillance operations, forcibly extract information of military value, conduct security combat patrol, and set the stage for more intensive brutal combat operations.
These RSOT/COPD operations completely violate the spirit and letter of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRHIL) and international protocols, as evidenced by its armed troops’ occupation of civilian residence, barangay and community schools, health and day care centres. They also introduce the corrupting cultural influence such as use of illicit drugs, impregnate women in the locality, gambling, and others.
The AFP TRIAD concept of operations, composed of intelligence, RSOT/COPD, and combat operations, have continued to be in full swing without let up since November last year until at present, even during their own SOMO, in many areas in Mindanao. For instance in Bukidnon, several hundreds of AFP troops have been deployed for offensive operations in the hinterland communities of Barangay Jagpa, Impasug-ong (six 6×6 trucks of fully armed soldiers); Sitio Ulayanon, Calabugao (three 6×6 truckloads); Sitio Pilot, Calabugao, where 25 soldiers occupied the barrio day-care center and the local elementary school; Barangay Bulonay (25 soldiers); Sitio Namnam (2 columns); as well as in barrios in San Fernando, Quezon, and Malabalay City.
The same are also on-going in the interior barangays of Claveria, Binuangan and Gingoog City, all of Misamis Oriental.
Similar offensive AFP operations have also been going on in some far flung barangays and communities in the provinces of Southern, Northeastern, Far Southern and Western Mindanao Regions. Violating their own SOMO had been the trademark of AFP SOMOs in the past years.
These offensive AFP operations have also been designed to provoke the NPA to a fire fight during the period covered by the NPA ceasefire, and charge the latter of ceasefire violations. This has always been their intention as was shown when the NPA unit launched a punitive action on the very day of the 45th CPP anniversary celebrations against operating troops of the 8th Infantry Battalion. In direct violation of CARHRHIL and international conventions, these troops occupied the health and day-care centres of Sitio Ulayanon in Calabugao, and imposed resource control to prevent the local masses together with NPA units from having their own celebrations.
The AFP has falsely claimed moral and political ascendancy with regard to their 21-day ceasefire juxtaposed to the NPA’s 6-day ceasefire. In truth however, the declaration of the AFP SOMO is purely a deception and there has never been a real suspension of AFP offensive operations on the ground. On the other hand, the ceasefire declaration of the NPA is intended to allow people to freely and safely celebrate the yuletide season; it has never been declared as a reciprocation of an expectedly fake AFP SOMO.
We laud NPA units who have heroically defended themselves and the masses from the treachery of the AFP’s so-called SOMO.