By RIGOBERTO SANCHEZ
Spokesperson, NPA Merardo Arce Command
NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command
The capture of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria only emboldens the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao to further intensify the people’s war in the region. The US-Aquino regime is daydreaming when it says the arrest spells the demise of the revolutionary movement. The NPA-SMR is ever resolute to advance the guerrilla war to a higher stage because the roots of armed conflict are firmly embedded in a region heavily militarized by the fascist troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Instead of dismantling pork barrel and corruption, providing genuine relief for disaster victims, and ending the poverty of the Filipino masses, the US-Aquino regime has embarked on its relentless aggressive war in the countryside. Under its counterrevolutionary policy Oplan Bayanihan, it deployed its vast resources and manpower to militarize the peasant villages and open it for further imperialist plunder.
Ironically, after boasting that several provinces in the region are insurgency-free, the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command augmented its troops with a new Army division, and the deployment of the 9th Infantry Battalion in Compostela Valley, the 68th Infantry Battalion and the 4th Special Forces in Davao del Norte and Bukidnon boundary.
The new Army units are responsible for the spate of aerial bombing in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, and in Maco, Compostela Valley. They add up to the current AFP combat troops under its “Peace and Development” program which are disrupting the lives of civilian peasants and Lumads in Paquibato, Maco, Magpet, Tulunan, Makilala and Compostela, through its legalized hamletting and immersion activities. The new AFP units are the latest enemies of the people because they act as mercenary protectors of imperialist and local big business. They are the latest violators of human rights who will perpetrate the same injustice suffered by rape-slay victim Rebelyn Pitao, the child victim Roque Antivo, and the other victims of extra-judicial killings in the region.
The people’s guerrilla army shall continue to outwit and outmaneuver the Eastern Mindanao Command whose Special Operations Teams are intensifying their hamletting in the countryside. The NPA’s regular troops and the people’s militia shall continue to conduct widespread and intensive tactical offensives to hit the Aquino regime’s armed forces whenever and wherever in the Southern Mindanao territory. It will seize more arms, inflict mounting casualties and accelerate the formation of more NPA platoons.
In the last two months alone, three sub-regional units of the NPA have inflicted 54 casualties against the AFP. It is standard operating procedure for the military to conceal the real score in the battlefield by being silent with the real number of casualties. It is only when the media are vigilant enough that the military is forced to reveal the number of body bags. The 39th, 57th, and the 71st Infantry Battalions suffered several defeats, thus they were required to attend rotational retraining; their absence is currently augmented with the new battalions.
In the face of the AFP’s relentless attacks, the NPA urges the people to defend their homes and families. Only through the armed struggle can the masses protect the gains of the people’s war and prevent themselves from being placed under military control. The NPA is always open for any cooperation with the people when it comes to protecting their rights, defending their lands, and inflicting blows against the fascist enemy that wreak havoc to their lives.
The NPA also urges the CAFGU paramilitary forces who, because of extreme poverty, are coerced to become enemies of their fellow peasants. They should turn their backs from their fascist and corrupt masters, and serve and defend their poor class. They should discern that the AFP commanders to whom they report to receive fat salaries and kickbacks at the expense of the people’s welfare.