MANILA, Philippines—The New People’s Army (NPA) command in southern Mindanao has owned up to the abduction on Friday of a soldier and a policeman in Compostela Valley as the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) vowed to “frustrate” the counterinsurgency program of newly appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.
“General Bautista cannot stop the growth momentum of the NPA,” said the CPP in a statement e-mailed to the media after Bautista assumed the top AFP post on Thursday.
The CPP said the military continued to commit the same abuses—such as human rights violations—that it did during martial law more than 25 years ago. This was among the “biggest reasons for the initial motivation of people to join the New People’s Army,” it said.
The CPP said the NPA membership would continue to grow.
Bautista, who is largely credited with crafting the government’s current counterinsurgency program called “Bayanihan,” had said that he would want to render the communist insurgents “irrelevant” in his year-and-a-half tour of duty as AFP chief of staff.
“With the mastermind of Oplan Bayanihan himself at the helm of the AFP, the CPP anticipates the military to commit worsening cases of human rights abuses accompanied by more publicity gimmicks to cover up such abuses,” the CPP said.
On Friday, the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command of the Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command seized Army Pfc. Jezreel Culango who was on his way to visit his girlfriend in Barangay Mangloy, Laak, Compostela Valley.
The NPA had set up a checkpoint in Sitio Mangob in Barangay Imelda also in Laak town which Culango passed on his way to his girlfriend’s house. According to a military report, PO1 Ruel Pasion happened to pass by the same checkpoint and the communist insurgents took him as well.
Maj. Jake Obligado, commander of the Army’s 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion, told the Inquirer yesterday that efforts were being exerted to rescue Culango and Pasion.
Obligado said the abduction of the two was part of the NPA’s effort to distract the military from its rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts in Compostela Valley in the aftermath of Typhoon “Pablo.”
“But our efforts are still ongoing. Another battalion has been tasked to rescue Culango and Pasion,” Obligado said.