By SIMON “Ka Filiw” NAOGSAN
Spokesperson, Cordillera People's Democratic Front
The Cordillera People’s Democratic Front congratulates the Leonardo Pacsi Command (LPC) of the New People’s Army (NPA)-Mountain Province for their successful tactical offensive last 27 January. The LPC’s mastery of the terrain, high spirits and guerrilla tactics allowed them to outmaneuver the superiorly equipped mercenary troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Two weeks ago, B/Gen. Rommel Gomez, Commanding Officer of the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippines Army (5th ID), announced in Bontoc, Mountain Province the return of the 54th Infantry Battalion from its ineffective stint in Maguindanao, Mindanao.
He said the 54th IB will be deployed as augmentation peace force in Mountain Province. He assured that these troops do not come to look for combat but to offer assistance in search for peace. His duplicity is like his commander in chief – he talks of peace and yet dispatches a large contingent of troops to conduct military operations. And military operations are anathema to the concepts and practice of the national minorities over their rights of ancestral lands. Afterward B/Gen. Gomez’s announcement, the 5th ID launched massive military operations mobilizing its three organic infantry brigades – 501st, 502nd and 503rd – targeting selected areas in theprovinces of Mountain Province, Abra, Kalinga, and Ilocos Sur.
At 10:27 AM on 27 January, a unit of the LPC outmaneuvered an elite platoon of the 54th IB led by 1Lt. Victor Leopoldo, at the vicinity of Mt. Bato in Mainit, Bontoc a day after the massive division-directed military operations began.
The use of massive combat troops from the 54th, 50th and 21st IB with air support from helicopter gunships and a jet plane failed to daunt the determination of the NPA and close participation of the oppressed indigenous people of the Mountain Province.
Military bombardment and strafing operations lasted for three days. While there was not a single NPA casualty, the indiscriminate bombing had adverse economic impact on the people. The bombings resulted in the destruction of irrigation canals, rice paddies and terraces, and domestic water systems of the barrios of Mainit and Guinaang. Out of sheer desperation, these mercenary AFP troops burn mountainsides.
The successful ambush highlights the failure of the Arroyo regime’s concluding Oplan Bantay Laya 2 and is a contribution to the advancement of the people’s war in the Cordillera. It is a slap in the face of Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales’ pronouncement to reduce the NPA to an inconsequential level before Gloria Arroyo steps down in June.
The victory is due to the people’s participation and support especially from intelligence and supplies afforded by the revolutionary mass organizations as well as the denial of information to the fascist troops.
The CPDF censures the AFP’s spin masters, especially 501st Brigade commanding officer Col. Remegio De Vera, for concocting claims of “numerous NPA casualties.” We call on the Red fighters of the NPA in the Cordillera to replicate the recent exemplary performance of the LPC and further contribute to the advance the people’s war. Further, Igorot military officers and foot soldiers must desist from being used as pawns in the national oppression of their fellow indigenous peoples.
In defeating the opening salvo of the Arroyo regime's military operations in the Cordillera this year, the CPDF again raises the call for total preparations to defend the land, life and livelihood: Fetad!