THE Philippine Army on Monday denied a claim by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that 14 soldiers were either killed or wounded during a two-week encounter in the Northern Mindanao.
Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, told reporters that only soldier was killed in action during the encounter with the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
“It is okay if…we have more casualties. It is propaganda anyway. We are more on the truth versus propaganda,” Villanueva said.
He said that the lone casualty on the government side was recorded on December 13 at the boundaries of Bukidnon and Esperanza in Agusan del Sur.
In a statement also on Monday, the CPP claimed that there were 14 casualties on the side of the military following the more than two weeks “all-out military offensive and massive bombardment” in the boundaries of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur provinces.
The CPP was citing reports from NPA field commanders in their respective areas of responsibility.
“After declaring it will not observe a ceasefire this holiday season, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) ordered its forces to go on an all-out offensive and massive bombardment in the vain hope of stopping the people to gather in the NPA guerilla zones to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the [CPP],” it said.
It also said that the military in the area had mobilized more than 400 troopers from the 8th Infantry Battalion, 58th Infantry Battalion, several companies from the 4th ID, Scout Ranger forces, Special Forces and local units of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit.
The CPP also accused the military of “spoiling the peace and holiday preparations” by mounting combat operations.
“Also, they have doused on the high hopes of their foot soldiers to have a brief respite during the holidays to be with their families,” the CPP added.
The NPA in early December declared a five-day unilateral ceasefire in keeping with the Christmas season and to celebrate the CPP’s celebration of its 50th founding anniversary.
Despite this, the CPP ordered its armed units to intensify its attacks against military forces in response to Congress’ decision to grant another year of martial law in Mindanao but maintained that the NPA would comply with its own truce. DEMPSEY REYES