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Red fighters launch 3 counter-offensives in North Cotabato, Bukidnon

Red fighters counter SOT operations by AFP troops in two separate ambushes, command-detonated blast

By ISABEL SANTIAGO
Spokesperson, NPA Southern Mindanao
Herminio Alfonso Command (Front 53)

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Offensive Special Operations Team (SOT), psychological warfare activities, and a series of indiscriminate bombing operations by the 57th Infantry Battalion and 8th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Magpet, North Cotabato and Kibawe, Bukidnon, have led to the dislocation of civilians and a host of other human rights abuses.

Acting in active defense and to counter the destructive operations under the Oplan Bayanihan, Guerilla Front 53 operations command-Herminio Alfonso Command of the New People’s Army  ambushed the forces of the 57th IB on 29 March, 11 am in Sitio (sub-village) Bantaan, Bagumbayan, Magpet town, killing one of the AFP troops and wounding another. The HAC-NPA’s active defense martyred one Red fighter, Ka Nonoy.

In retaliation, the AFP directed its two bomber planes and OV 10 and indiscriminately bombed civilian communities for two days in Bagumbayan, Magpet resulting to the dislocation of 122 families. It positioned its two 105 howitzer canyon behind the Bagumbayan public school and along a bridge in Kabacan river in Barangay Binay, Magpet town.

As the 57th IB-AFP troops continued with the offensive operations, on 01 April, the Red fighters directed its command-detonated explosive to prevent the entry of a 6×6 military truck in Purok 4, Mateo, Kidapawan city along the national highway. The NPA action temporarily prevented a further military assault.

That same day, between 5:30 to 7:00 am, the Red fighters ambushed a SOT of the 8th IB-AFP in Barangay (village) Sampaguita, Kibawe town, Bukidnon, killing two AFP troops. After the battle, the AFP dropped eight bombs, one civilian, Jenis Maguate was wounded on the face and back. The civilian’s cow and carabao were hit and killed with the bombing assault.

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To justify its offensive bombing and ground operations in conditioning the minds of the public, the AFP spread the wild rumor of the presence of Ka Parago of the 1st Pulang Bagani Company-NPA in the North Cotabato-Bukidnon range. The military operations was also an act of desperation to pursue the NPA for the capital punishment it imposed on Patrick Wineger, a prized possession of the AFP who masterminded the killing of beloved Italian missionary and people’s advocate Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio.

602nd Brigade Commander Col. Cesar Sedillo and 57th IB Civil Military Operations chief Lt. Manuel Gatus bared their stark ignorance when they immediately condemned the command-detonated explosive blast as a violation to the international humanitarian law. The command-detonated explosives of the type used by the NPA are not covered by the Mine Ban Treaty nor do they violate international laws governing armed conflicts.

The NPA only uses command-detonated explosives against the intruding forces of the AFP/PNP. Command-detonated explosives are anti-personnel and anti-tank mines that fundamentally differ from mines that are designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person which are specifically covered by the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and Their Destruction.

The AFP further attempts to score a propaganda point and fails miserably when it diverts its own abusive and offensive military operations that has left a string of extra-judicial killings of civilians like Fr. Tentorio and Ramon Batoy, and the psychological warfare against civilian peasants and indigenous peoples in North Cotabato and Bukidnon provinces. It attempts to deodorize its rotten self by extending civilian social services to the victims of its military operations.

All the more, the NPA is on a moral high ground in actively defending the civilians from intruding military forces by acting against legitimate military targets and mounting offensive military actions against the abusive AFP.

(Sgd.) Isabel Santiago
Spokesperson, Herminio Alfonso Command
Guerilla Front 53 Operations Command
New People’s Army-Southern Mindanao

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