AS the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) claimed major strategic victories in Mindanao, its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), staged another daring ambush against government troops in the province of Bukidnon that left one soldier dead, while the party’s two-day Christmas ceasefire was still in effect.
First Lt. Norman Tagros, battalion spokesman, Eighth Infantry Battalion, Fourth Infantry Division, on Friday identified the fallen soldier as Private First Class Akmad Maruhom, a member of the Barangay Assistance Team for Peace and Development troops of the Philippine Army.
According to Tagros, the incident happened on Thursday at about 6:30 p.m. in Sitio Ulayanon, Barangay Kalabugao, Impasugong, Bukidnon with still more than five hours for the ceasefire to lapse.
On December 18, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) declared a truce to be observed starting at 12 a.m. of December 24 till 11:59 p.m. of December 26.
“The action of the NPAs in the area clearly violated this previously announced truce from their side,” he said, adding that the incident was the second time that the rebels staged an ambush on government troops facilitating peace and development activities.
Tagros explained that said team was not deployed to wage a war against the NPA and other threat groups but rather to assist to assist the local government in the delivery of basic services and in the implementation of government programs and projects.
“The program is rather implemented to address local issues which are commonly exploited by the NPA so as people may be recruited to its ranks and pursue armed struggle,” Tagros further said.
The CPP has claimed that it is growing stronger in Mindanao and would reach the strategic stalemate phase in the next few years, and eventually towards a socialist revolution.
“Despite the AFP’s [Armed Forces of the Philippines’s] military and psy-war operations . . . the revolutionary bases have rapidly expanded and gained strength in more than 2,000 barrios in more than 200 municipalities and 19 provinces in Mindanao,” said Jorge Madlos, spokesman, National Democratic Front of the Philippines Mindanao Chapter.
In the last five years, Madlos said, tactical offensives of the NPA have significantly intensified from only 250 in 2010 to 350 in 2011, to 400 in 2012 and to more than 400 in 2013.
He claimed that among their major victories include the raid on Del Monte plantation, the raid on the Cafgu-Army detachment in Barangay Lantad, Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, the ambush of an army unit in Barangay Bituan, Tulunan, North Cotabato, the confiscation of arms from Dasia Security Agency in Tagum City and from the PNP headquarters in Kibawe, Bukidnon and in Don Victoriano, Misamis Occidental.
From 2011 to 2013, Madlos added, AFP casualties have risen to at least a battalion a year while that from the NPA did not go beyond a platoon each year for the same period.
A battalion is composed of 300 to 1,200 soldiers, while a company has 80 to 250 soldiers.