Propaganda war heats up in Mindanao

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Communist rebels have strongly denied military reports that it killed four insurgents in the town of Maco in Compostela Valley in southern Philippines.

Daniel Ibarra, a spokesman for the New People’s Army, branded the reports attributed to Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III as “preposterous.”

“There is no truth to the preposterous claim made by Eastern Mindanao Command Commander Lt. Gen. Rainier G. Cruz, III that in their Bayanihan, they have prevailed against the NPA by killing 4 New People’s Army guerillas in Maco town, Compostela Valley. The enemy has pursued its atrocious military operations in separate incidents of strafing and bombing that left a civilian dead, the detention of three others, and the dislocation of hundreds more in Maragusan and Maco towns since November 18 up to December 6.”

“While hiding its savage deeds against the masses, the AFP is engaging in a futile attempt to reverse the real score in the battlefield. In contrast to the AFP’s indiscriminate aerial bombing and strafing that did not distinguish combatants from civilians, the NPA triggered command detonated explosives, harassed and ambushed legitimate targets from enemy units in four separate punitive actions over the last three weeks. The AFP suffered a total of 34 casualties, with 20 killed and 14 wounded after NPA units under the Comval Davao Gulf Sub-regional Command launched a series of tactical offensives meant to punish the fascist 71st Infantry Battalion, 66th IB, and Division Reconnaissance Company all under the 10th ID-Eastern Mindanao Command of the AFP,” Ibarra said.


Ibarra also provided a list of all civilians and peasants allegedly branded as rebels by the military and eventually killed by troops in Compostela Valley.

“Indeed, the blatant cover-up and a host of human rights abuses in the last few weeks manifested the AFP’s character as harbinger of injustice and implementer of the hideous policy of neutralization under the Oplan Bayanihan. The masses can only rely in the revolutionary justice, time and again , dispensed by the NPA through its punitive actions against legitimate targets in the AFP and the US-Aquino regime,” he said.

The human rights group Karapatan also lambasted and accused the military of murdering innocent civilians and human rights violations in areas covered by the Eastern Mindanao Command.

Hanimay Suazo, Secretary-General of  Karapatan, said the government’s anti-insurgency campaign’s Oplan Bayanihan breeds gross human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, aside from militarization.

“These killings continue because the President (Benigno Aquino 3rd) permits his armed forces to do it,” she said, citing the alleged murder by the military of Pedro Tinga, a Mansaka tribal council member, in the village of Malamudao in Maco town this month. She accused the 71st Infantry Battalion as behind the killing of Tinga.

But Captain Alberto Caber, public affairs chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, strongly denied all Ibarra and Suazo’s allegations and branded them as a “propaganda.”

“Ang recruits naman talaga ng NPA ay sibilyan, kahit sino at lalo na ang mga magsasaka, bata, matanda at basta magagamit nila. Pinapagulo lang ng Karapatan ang bayan natin, binubulag nila ang mga mamamayan sa katotohanan. Ang Karapatan ang siyang tagapagtanggol ng NPA. Malinaw na nakikinabang ang Karapatan sa extortion actiovities ng NPA,” Caber said.

Cruz also denied the accusations and praised civilians in Compostela Valley and other areas covered by the Eastern Mindanao Command for supporting the military and police and the government’s efforts in bringing peace and development to the province through Bayanihan.

“Kami ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa mga residente sa kaniolang regular na pagre-reportsa kasundaluhan at pulis sa presensya ng mga NPA sa kanilang lugar. Sa ating Bayanihan, tayo ay magtatagumpay laban sa extortion activities ng NPA. Ako ay nananawagan sa mga rebeldeng binulag ng maling paniniwala na bumalok sa ating pamahalaan at mag bagong buhay kasama ang inyong mga mahal na pamilya, anak, kapatid at magulang at kaakibat ninyo kami sa pagbabagong buhay,” he said.

“At sa mga nagpipilit naman sa marahas na pamamaraan, hangga’t meron Republika ng Pilipinas, ang military operations ay hindi titigil laban sa NPA sa pagtatanggol sa demokrasya at kaligtasan ng bawa’t isang mamamayan. Mandato ng AFP at PNP na pangalagaan ang mamamayang Pilipino. Inuulit namin na sana ay bumalik na kayo sa ating lipunan at makiisa sa hinahangad na kapayapaan para sa kaayusan ng ating bayan,” Cruz added.

The NPA has been fighting for decades for the establishment of a separate state in the country. AL JACINTO

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