Ka KARLOS MANUEL
Spokesperson, Efren Martires Command
NPA Eastern Visayas Region
The Efren Martires Command of the New People’s Army-Eastern Visayas said today that a legitimate military action occurred on 01 March in Barangay (village) Roxas, Lope de Vega, Northern Samar against elements of the 20th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Private First Class Neil Bartolome was killed in a counter-offensive launched by our Red fighters and people’s militia to defend the people against human rights violations committed by the 20th Infantry Battalion in the guise of bayanihan (community cooperation),” said Ka Karlos Manuel, spokesperson of the NPA Efren Matires Command.
Ka Karlos Manuel also clarified that the 20th IB troops were in Barangay Roxas to conduct Oplan Bayanihan’s triad operations combining psychological warfare, combat and espionage.
“It is a violation of international huanitarian law for combatants to use civilian communities as their base and to use civilians as human shields. But in this latest incident, it is clear from the statements of 20th IB chief Lt. Col. Vestuir that Pfc. Bartolome and another soldier were mingling with civilians as they walked towards their base in a civilian community. Furthermore, Pfc. Bartolome and his companion were unarmed and pretended to be civilians while their unit was on active operation, because they were in fact doing intelligence work when he was killed. According to the laws of war, spies are considered combatants and Bartolome was therefore a legitimate target for the NPA counter-offensive.”
Manuel also condemned Lt. Col. Vestuir for saying “the area will be investigated” to identify those suspected of involvement in the tactical offensive.
“Lt. Col. Vestuir wants to dismiss the existing civil war in the country by insisting that an act of war is simply a criminal action. He is also looking for a reason to intensify the harassment of civilians merely suspected of supporting the revolutionary movement. It is irresponsible for Lt. Col. Vestuir to make such a statement because this will encourage soldiers to attack civilians, including progressive activists and human rights advocates, who all do not participate in the armed hostilities.”
Manuel furthermore said that in the midst of the relentless military offensives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, all units of the NPA and the people’s militia are ready to intensify guerrilla warfare, defend the people, and defeat the US-Aquino regime’s anti-people Oplan Bayanihan.