ZAMBOANGA CITY: Communist rebels on Sunday claimed killing seven soldiers and wounding 14 more in separate attacks in Mindanao and that the military has hidden the casualties from the public.
New People’s Army (NPA) spokesman Rigoberto Sanchez said with increasing military casualties, government troops have targeted civilians for failing to support the anti-insurgency campaign that resulted in widespread human rights violations, especially in Davao City and Davao del Norte province.
“The 10th Infantry Division-Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has concealed the rising number of casualties of its troops in the field as they intensify psychological warfare and combat operations in Davao hinterlands.”
“Raging against the civilians who have boldly exposed human rights abuses in the villages of Paquibato and Talaingod, Davao del Norte, the 10th ID has taken to downplaying, if not, hiding the incidents to stir terror in the minds and hearts and civilians. But no amount of cover-up can they stifle the growing armed struggle and increasing unity between the NPA and the masses,” Sanchez said.
He said rebel forces killed and wounded at least 21 soldiers in separate offensive in recent days in Davao City’s Paquibato district alone.
“The AFP is relentless in waging war against civilians by its continued hamletting in Paquibato and interfering in the civilian bureaucracy in order to control the populace. These repressive acts further inflame the masses to struggle against fascism and turn to the people’s army for protection,” Sanchez said.
“As the abusive military operations continue to plague the masses, the NPA is determined to hit Army units, staging surreptitious attacks in greater latitude as possible, while the masses participate and become truly part of the people’s war,” he added.
There was no immediate statement from the 10th Infantry Division and the Eastern Mindanao Command about Sanchez’s allegations.
On Friday, security forces captured a senior NPA regional rebel leader Felix Armodia in Tampakan town in the southern province of South Cotabato. The Eastern Mindanao Command tagged Armodia as behind the spate of attacks on military and police targets, including various construction firms in the region.
Human rights group Karapatan said Armodia was not a rebel leader, but an anti-mining activist fighting for the rights of peasants and indigenous tribes whose ancestral domain were being exploited by huge logging and mining firms.
The NPA is fighting for decades now to overthrow the democratic government and install a communist state in the country. It is the world’s longest-running communist insurgency.