By Ka ARIS FRANCISCO
Spokesperson, Comval-North Davao-South Agusan Subregional Command
NPA Southern Mindanao
Red fighters apprehended in its checkpoint Sgt. Jeric Bucio Curay (serial number 803477) of the 72nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, at 8:00am, 4 April 2014 in Barangay (village) Andap, Laak, Compostela Valley. Curay, who came from a military detachment in Barangay Panuramin and was riding his motorcycle when he was arrested, is now being held as Prisoner of War (POW) under the custody of the Comval-North Davao-South Agusan Subregional Command of the New People’s Army.
Consistent with its practice of lenient treatment towards POWs, the NPA custodial force ensures the safety and security of POW Curay as he undergoes an investigation for his involvement in counterrevolutionary and anti-people activities in Laak.
The arrest of an enlisted personnel of the 72nd Infantry Battalion is timed with the NPA’s renewed campaign against Armed Forces of the Philippines units (the other one is the 60th Infantry Battalion) responsible for protecting big logging firms which have wiped out the forests of Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, and Agusan del Sur provinces. Wanton destruction of remaining forest cover and unchecked commercial logging in these areas have greatly impoverished Lumads and peasants, and have made them more vulnerable to environmental disasters and climate change.
The NPA, likewise, warns the Big 4 loggers of these provinces to submit to the revolutionary government’s total log ban policy. Comval Gov. Arturo Uy is behind the Big 4 logging lords, namely, Laak Mayor Reynaldo Navarro, SPO3 Eduardo Bajalia of the Regional Intel Office, SPO Simplicio Samar, and Ret. police officer Diosdado Wamilda.
In the boundary town of Loreto, Agusan del Sur, Mayor Dario Otaza and Gov. Edward Plaza are also behind the indiscriminate logging and continued destruction of forests. Thus, they stand to face NPA sanction against environmental plunderers and destroyers of people’s livelihood.
Aside from being goons for logging companies, the 60th and 72nd Infantry Battalions are actively holding checkpoints in the areas to harass residents suspected as revolutionary forces; the soldiers take pictures of these civilians. In their active intelligence work, they also arrested a peasant and released him/her two days later. In their operations last January, they uprooted crops planted by the peasants. A joint operation of the 60th, 26th, and 72nd Infantry Battalions also led to the killing of two peasants in Barangay Kauswagan, Loreto.
In the face of these abuses, the NPA has intensified its tactical offensives against the AFP. In February, the NPA sniped against the 60th Infantry Battalion during its military operation in Barangay Ampawid, Laak. Two soldiers were killed and one was wounded. Last month, the NPA has launched eight attritive actions. This month, the Red fighters have targeted a patrolling Cafgu and six detachments of the 72nd Infantry Battalion by holding checkpoints in km12 Barangay Casoon in Monkayo town; Barangays Titoy, Lubho, and Panuramin in Laak town; Barangay Kalyawa in Kapalong town; and Km 19 in Veruela town, Agusan del Sur. These attritive actions have led to three AFP casualties.
The NPA shall persevere in punishing logging lords and their AFP protectors. The arrest of Curay and other tactical offensives should serve as a strong warning against enemy troops that continue to protect exploiters of remaining natural resources at the expense of environmental preservation and people’s welfare.