By DIEGO MADRIGAL
Commander, Valentin Palamine Command
NPA Far South Mindanao Regional Operations Command
For less than 10 minutes, two platoons of Red fighters under the Valentine Palamine Command of the New People’s Army Far Southern Mindanao Region confiscated seven M16 rifles and several ammunition vests, two 9 mm pistols, one caliber .45 pistol, and two VHF radios when they effectively assaulted the Matanao Headquarters of the Philippine National Police in Matanao, Davao del Sur at around 4:50 in the morning of 10 March 2014.
Police personnel resisted the NPAs who, disguised as Armed Forces of the Philippines soldiers, commanded them to give up their positions and surrender their firearms. Three PNP members were killed while two were wounded in the ensuing firefight that, unfortunately, took the lives of two Red fighters namely, Ka Jabjab and Ka Rico.
That the enemy was clearly taken by surprise was apparent in its automatic rejoinder to the successful tactical offensive by pegging it merely as part of the forthcoming celebrations of the 45th year anniversary of the NPA. Davao del Sur PNP officers and members are notorious coddlers of illegal drug pushers and other criminal syndicates. They are, thus, legitimate targets of the people’s army at any time of the year.
Their failure at intelligence work notwithstanding, the Matanao PNP trained its eyes against nine hapless civilians, namely, Renante Urot, Joey Alberca, Rufoboy Gama, Laudemer Gama, Noel Morangit, Roger Natonton, Julio Sales, John Rey Pabillo, and Christopher Sales. The police tagged them as NPA members and arrested the group after the raid, at 7:00 in the morning. The civilians were on their way to attend a sitio fiesta (community festivities) at Barangay (village) Savoy, Matanao, when they were illegitimately accosted.
On the other hand, battle-weary, overextended and defeated from its recent engagements with NPA units the under NPA-Southern Mindanao Region, the 39th Infantry Battalion (Philippine Army) responded to the police assault and sent its troops at past 9:00 am in the morning at Barangay Asbang, Matanao. NPA operatives discharged command-detonated explosives against the passing military truck, killing nine of the AFP troops, among them was 2nd Lt. Ludevico Alejo, and seriously wounding seven other soldiers.
It is hypocritical for the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the AFP to condemn the NPA’s continued use of command-detonated explosives as the latter’s main weapon of choice for guerrilla warfare. The country’s mining laws and the state’s counter-insurgency policy, the Oplan Bayanihan, have resulted in the massive and indiscriminate pillage of resources, killings, and displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilian communities.
The 10 March police headquarters raid and ambush demonstrated the NPA’s determination to punish the fascist AFP and PNP units operating in Davao del Sur and its boundaries. The 39th Infantry Battalion remains as security forces and fascist thugs of Glencore Xstrata large-scale mining, a mining giant poised to continue to exploit the nearly 100,000 hectares of mining-rich ancestral lands of Lumad Blaans and peasants in the region.
The AFP/PNP units in Matanao and other towns in Davao del Sur deserve to be disarmed and punished because in their defense of Xstrata mining, they have killed, injured, discharged aerial bombs — all part of their reign of terror against the Lumad and settlers communities who have fiercely battled against mining since 1992 when the project was still under the Western Mining Corporation.