By MARIA MALAYA
Spokesperson, NDFP Northeast Mindanao Chapter
Within only a day, the New People’s Army in the North East Mindanao Region simultaneously attacked on 15 July three private armed groups, to dismantle and stop it from continuing its brutal and anti-people criminal activities. First is the armed Lumad group of Calpet Egua based in Sta. Irene, Posperidad, Agusan del Sur; second is another armed Lumad group based in Sitio Inagawan, La Purisima, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, also armed by Calpet himself; and third, the bandit group in Bitan-agan, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur.
Calpet’s private army was formed with the aid of the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police, and local government officials so that he can control the profit from the mining operations in the Manhulayan area. When Calpet rose to power as a warlord, he grabbed the lands of other Lumads as well as that of businessmen who owned mining concessions in the area. This allowed him to accumulate wealth and gave him the leverage to expand and strengthen his private army up to more than 60 armed elements, widening and solidifying his control over the mining and logging area in the boundary of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur. Calpet’s private army has committed vile criminal acts of massacre, summary executions, rape and ambush even of his Lumad relatives. His “handlers” in the military have not only used this to make a profit but also for counter-revolutionary activities. The attack against Calpet is a revolutionary exaction of justice.
According to partial reports, at around 5:50AM, an NPA platoon staged an attack on Calpet’s compound, which also serves as the base for his private army. This NPA-initiated attack, as stated by initial reports from the field, did not, however, succeed and resulted in the demise of 10 Red fighters and the wounding of a few others. On the part of the enemy, four elements of Calpet’s dreaded private army were killed-in-action, including his brother who is armed and is as ruthless as he is. A civilian driver was also killed during the battle.
Another NPA Red fighter was martyred when military forces attacked the NPA blocking force in Barangay (village) Hamugaway, Bayugan City. The military also attacked the blocking force of the NPA in San Salvador, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, but there were no casualties among the Red fighters. According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, one of their personnel died and another was wounded in the course of this incident.
In yet another daring tactical offensive, during the same time in the dawn of July the 15th, another NPA unit raided another Calpet-sponsored Lumad private armed group based in Sitio Inagwan, La Purisima, Prospersida, Agusan del Sur, which has in their possession more or less 20 firearms. The raid was a success, allowing the NPA to confiscate 7 M16s, 1 M14 and 2 handguns. While a few other armed elements fled, one was able to gun down and kill a Red fighter.
On the same day, yet another NPA platoon attacked another private army of bandits based in Barangay Bitan-agan, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur. According to reports, the leader of the bandits, Renato Villaverde, was killed and, from him, a carbine rifle, a .45 calibre pistol, and a 9mm KG were confiscated. The battle resulted in the wounding of a Red fighter. The other members of the bandit group bolted. This group is responsible for the sale and distribution of illegal drugs in the area, robbery, gun-for-hire and a host of other criminal acts. This notorious bandit group is also responsible for numerous armed robberies along the highway and in nearby towns.
These simultaneous attacks against three private armed groups in Agusan del Sur form part of the NPA’s firm resolve to dismantle brutal private armies in order to defend the interests of the broad masses. We are well aware that the reactionary government encourages the existence of these private armies to cater to their interests and for use in counter-revolutionary activities. Fourteen Red fighters have courageously offered up their lives, including a civilian driver, to carry out this latest effort of the NPA to destroy fascist private armed groups. Their passing, though unfortunate, shall never weaken the unflinching determination of the NPA to crush private armies that have become a threat to the interest of the people.
The foremost task of the NPA is to smash all armed apparatus of the reactionary state, which are used to protect the interests of big landlords, big bourgeois comprador and US imperialism. Private armies are part of these armed apparatus that serve the interest of the ruling classes.
The call of PNP and military officials to end the armed conflict is nothing but a devious call for peace because they have taken no sincere steps in dismantling private armies that are the very threats to peace itself. Above all, as long as the AFP-PNP-Cafgu exist as the very apparatus of the ruling classes to oppress and exploit the people, to smash it completely is only right, and to have the real people’s army rise in its stead is the only way to liberate the people totally from its fascist grip.
We are grateful for the offer to have our wounded brought to you for medical treatment however, we know that behind this seeming act of benevolence is a trap ready to spring on our Red fighters to surrender. Once under your custody, your courts and prisons will never release them. Instead of accepting your offer, we will try our very best with whatever medical resources we have within our revolutionary medical team’s reach to treat our wounded and get them out of harm’s way.
We ask the responsible government agencies to ensure that the process of embalming should take, at the minimum, a week in order to allow us to reach and inform the families of the Red fighters who have heroically offered their lives in the service of the people. We will defray funeral costs. We are in debt of gratitude should you consider our request.
To the family of the driver who unfortunately perished in this incident, we only ask for your understanding and pardon; we shall exert every effort to provide financial help.
To the owner of the vehicle the NPA rented for this operation, we deeply regret the inconvenience it has brought you. We shall find ways to pay for the damages.
To the public, we humbly ask for your kind consideration with whatever inconvenience this NPA-initiated operation has brought you. We are in the middle of a civil war where the people’s army – the NPA – is launching tactical offensives in order to smash the armed apparatus of exploitation and oppression, and is gradually strengthening itself to gain greater capability to totally destroy the armed forces of the ruling classes. We strive, now and in the future, to make sure that no civilians ever get caught in the cross fire and that we bring to a minimum any inconvenience or delay brought on by these legitimate operations of the NPA.
To the martyred Red fighters in these simultaneous operations, their deaths deserve praise as heroes because they willingly offered their lives for the liberation of the long suffering people from exploitation and oppression. To their relatives, friends and comrade Red fighters, the entire people join you in your mourning. Let us transform our collective grief into revolutionary courage in order to continue the cause begun and left for us to carry forward by our Revolutionary Martyrs.
Long live the inspiration of the Revolutionary Martyrs!
Social Justice for the people!
Advance the People’s War!