NPA ambush of food convoy untrue–AFP
NAGA CITY—A military report about communist rebels ambushing a group of soldiers escorting a food convoy headed for typhoon-ravaged Tacloban City in Leyte has turned out to be false.
Capt. Mardjorie Panesa, public information officer of the Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Division based in Bicol, on Wednesday clarified that what happened was an encounter on Tuesday morning between government troops and suspected communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Matnog town in Sorsogon, in which two rebels were killed.
Earlier press reports (not the Inquirer) said the rebels had ambushed the soldiers who were escorting a government convoy carrying relief goods to Samar and Leyte, the two Eastern Visayas provinces devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
Party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares of the leftist Bayan Muna on Wednesday accused the military of “lying” about the supposed ambush.
“According to reports by the people of Matnog, no ambush took place and the Army could not even say if a shot was fired by the ambushers or what relief convoy was attacked since there was no relief convoy that passed the area. The AFP through Col. Joselito Makilala later backtracked and admitted there was just a supposed plan to ambush potential convoy but no ambush took place,” said Colmenares in a text message.
Reacting to the ambush report, Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, a former Armed Forces chief, warned the NPA that this “perceived strategy” to take advantage of the chaos and suffering in the Samar-Leyte region was a “big mistake.”
“I am still verifying these reports. But if indeed they (NPA) are responsible, this will be a blow to their projected legitimacy as an alternative government, the rightfulness of whatever they are projecting themselves as will be lost,” said Biazon in a phone interview.
“Those supporting their cause would think twice about continuing to support them. These are not the acts of so-called ideologues but plain bandits,” he said.
Party-list Rep. Walden Bello (Akbayan) appealed to the NPA’s “sense of decency and humanity to desist from such acts.”
Satur Ocampo, a former House party-list member representing Bayan Muna, was skeptical of the military report of an ambush.
“I don’t think the NPA would take any action to prevent or hamper the flow of relief goods to the people in devastated areas. On the contrary, it’s a standing policy for the NPA to assist or facilitate in the rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations by all aiding entities and the survivors in such situation,” he said in a text message.
He called on the National Democratic Front—the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines; the NPA is the CPP’s military arm—to call for a “temporary ceasefire” between the NPA and AFP in order to “give full leeway” to relief and rehabilitation efforts in identified war zones.—With a report from Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao
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