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NPA: 15 dead in Batangas were ours

DEAD IN NASUGBU A jeep with bullet holes, which carried the slain communist rebels, is cordoned off along the Tagaytay-Nasugbu highway hours after the fighting. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

The communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Tagalog hailed the heroism of their 15 comrades who were killed on Tuesday in clashes with government forces in Nasugbu, Batangas province.

“The revolutionary movement in Southern Tagalog salutes the 15 Red fighters and the commander of the New People’s Army who were slain by the fascist Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Patnubay de Guia, NDFP-Southern Tagalog spokesperson, said in a statement.

The NDFP is the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), while the NPA is the armed wing of the CPP.

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On Nov. 28, military and police forces engaged NPA members in two vehicles in a firefight in the adjacent villages of Aga and Kaylaway, along the dimly lit part of the Tagaytay-Nasugbu highway.

The military tagged the slain rebels, including student activists, as “full-time” guerrillas.

Call for probe

Gabriela, meanwhile, has called on the Commission on Human Rights to conduct a “thorough and immediate” probe of the firefight that killed 15 people, including two female university students.

Killed in the ambush in Nasugbu, Batangas, were University of the Philippines-Manila biochemistry student Josephine Anne Lapira, also an officer of the Gabriela Youth-Manila; and former Polytechnic University of the Philippines student Kamil Manangan.

UP student buried

Lapira was buried at Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina on Sunday afternoon. The burial was private and off limits to journalists.

Gabriela denounced the AFP and the Philippine National Police for disclosing the names of those killed without their families’ consent, and for releasing Lapira’s photo through the Legal Army Wives Facebook page.

Gabriela also condemned the brutal manner of their deaths and the ill treatment of their bodies. “All their belongings, even the clothes on their bodies, were taken away by the military,” it said.

The photos, which showed Lapira’s body wrapped in blankets, were contrary to the Army’s claim that Lapira had been rushed to the hospital, Gabriela said.

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Overkill

“The haphazard handling of the crime scene investigation points to a whitewash, amid initial reports that also point to excessive use of force and overkill on the part of AFP and PNP operatives,” the women’s group added.

De Guia considered the killing of the NPA members, claimed by state forces as their “latest big score” against communist insurgents, a temporary setback.

Losing support

“Soon, the revolutionaries of Batangas will gain strength again to take up arms and take the places of our martyred comrades in Nasugbu,” De Guia said.

But Maj. Gen. Rhoderick Parayno, commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said the NPA was losing support.

“Those valuable reports on the NPA location and activities were often provided by unknown ordinary civilians through phone calls or text messages,” Parayno said.

He said civilian communities even in remote areas, the traditional mass base of communist rebels, had been providing vital information to the police and the military.

“This trend indicates that the NPA is now losing the support [of] their so-called mass base,” Parayno said.

‘Grand scheme’

On Saturday, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano expressed suspicion that the supposed antagonism between President Duterte and communist leaders could be part of a “grand scheme” to use insurgent attacks as an excuse to declare a revolutionary government.

The former rebel Marine captain and ardent Duterte critic said the communist rebels could be a witting or unwitting partner in the President’s scheme.

CPP founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison in an interview from Utrecht, The Netherlands, belied the observation that the conflict between the communist movement and the Duterte regime was part of the President’s plan to proclaim a revolutionary government.

Sison vowed that those who doubt “will witness more fighting to come from the people’s army, the mass movement and the broad united front.”

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TAGS: Gabriela, Josephine Anne Lapira, Nasugbu battle with NPA, NDFP, NPA attacks
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