ZAMBOANGA CITY: Communist rebels have owned up to daring and deadly attacks on police and military targets in the southern Philippines that killed at least a dozen people.
Dencio Madrigal, a spokesman for the New People’s Army-Valentine Palamine Command, said the attacks on a police base and military forces in Davao del Sur’s Matanao town was a punishment for their “reign of terror” against indigenous tribes and other communities opposing mining operations in the province.
“The March 10 police headquarters raid and ambush demonstrated the NPA’s determination to punish the fascist AFP and PNP units operating in Davao del Sur and its boundaries. The 39th Infantry Battalion remains as security forces and fascist thugs of Glencore Xstrata – a mining giant poised to continue to exploit the nearly 100,000 hectares of mining-rich ancestral lands of Lumad Blaans and peasants in the region.”
“The AFP and PNP units in Matanao and other towns in Davao del Sur deserved to be disarmed and punished because in their defense of Xstrata mining, they have killed, injured, discharged aerial bombs, all part of their reign of terror against the Lumad and settlers communities who have fiercely battled against mining since 1992 when the project was still under the Western Mining Corporation,” Madrigal said.
Madrigal said rebel forces seized seven M16 automatic rifles and several ammunition vests, two 9 mm pistols, one .45-caliber pistol, and a radio communication set from the police headquarters. He said the raid left 3 policemen and two other lawmen were killed in the fighting that also left two rebels dead.
He also accused the police of coddling drug pushers and other criminal syndicates in the province. “They are, thus, legitimate targets of the people’s army at any time of the year,” he said.
Madrigal also condemned the arrest of 9 innocent civilians on suspicion they were part of the NPA forces that attacked in Matanao town. “Their failure at intelligence work, notwithstanding, the Matanao PNP trained its eyes against nine hapless civilians, namely, Renante Urot, Joey Alberca, Rufoboy Gama, Laudemer Gama, Noel Morangit, Roger Natonton, Julio Sales, John Rey Pabillo and Christopher Sales.”
“The police tagged them as NPA members and arrested the group after the raid, at 7 in the morning. The civilians were on their way to attend a fiesta at Barangay Savoy in Matanao when they were illegitimately arrested,” he said.
Madrigal said 9 soldiers were also killed, including Lt. Ludevico Alejo; and 7 more wounded after rebels remotely detonated a military truck carrying reinforcements in the village of Asbang. He also dismissed allegations by the Eastern Mindanao Command that the NPA has been using landmines.
“It is hypocritical for the Philippine government and the AFP to condemn the NPA’s continued use of command detonated explosives as the latter’s main weapon of choice for guerrilla warfare. The country’s mining laws and the state’s counter-insurgency policy, the Oplan Bayanihan, have resulted in the massive and indiscriminate pillage of resources, killings, and displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilian communities,” he said, adding mining companies are legitimate target of the NPA.
Jorge Madlos, a regional rebel spokesman, has previously warned mining firms and fruit plantations in the southern Philippines.
“Military operations in Mindanao have escalated and have become more extensive with the aim to thwart the ever growing and widespread people’s protest against destructive mining operations and plantations owned by imperialists, the big comprador bourgeois and big landlords. “
“After having ravaged the environment by way of wanton logging, imperialists and the local ruling clique insidiously intend to inflict even greater devastation to the environment; and, to deprive, oppress and exploit further the Lumads, Moro, peasants and workers in order to satiate their greed for super profit,” he said.
Madlos said aming their targets are Russell Mines and Minerals, Apex Mining Corp. and Philco in southern Mindanao; Dolefil, Del Monte and Sumifru plantations in northern Mindanao; TVI Resource Development Philippines whose operations in ancestral domain of indigenous Subanen and Moro tribes are being opposed by the rebel group.
“If one recalls, more than 400 families were forced to evacuate their ancestral lands because of TVI and the ruthless military operations that ensued to protect it in Buug, Zamboanga del Sur. In order to defend the people’s human rights and general wellbeing, the NPA launched tactical offensives against TVI as well as against units of the AFP-PNP-CAFGU protecting it, such as the ambush on February 2012 that hit elements of the army intelligence group operating on the behest of TVI and the imposition of the local government to allow TVI mining operations on Subanen ancestral lands is one of the bases the NPA raided on April 9, 2012 the PNP station in Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur,” Madlos said.
NPA rebels also intercepted a group of army soldiers who were using a borrowed truck from TVI and disarmed them in Diplahan town in Zamboanga Sibugay province two years ago. The rebels also burned the truck before releasing the soldiers.
“In view of these events, the NDFP in Mindanao calls upon the Lumad and Moro peoples, peasants and workers, religious and other sectors to further strengthen their unity and their courage to oppose the interests of imperialist mines and plantations, which are exceedingly damaging to Mindanao, to its people and to the environment. We call upon the units of the NPA in Mindanao to be ever more daring in their defense of people’s interests against the greed and rapacity of the local ruling classes and their imperialist master,” Madlos said.
TVI Resource Development Philippines has repeatedly denied all accusations against them. It recently ended its gold mining operation in Mount Canatuan in Zamboanga del Norte’s Siocon town after several years of operations and now has a gold-silver project in the town of Bayog in Zamboanga del Sur province and a nickel plant in Agusan del Norte province.
It is among mining companies operating in Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte that had been attacked in the past by Muslim and communist rebels. Al Jacinto