NPA: AFP deploying troops in Southern Mindanao despite truce
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The New People’s Army claimed on Tuesday that the military has not been sincere and has been defying its own declaration of a “suspension of military operations” (Somo) by deploying more troops in Southern Mindanao.
“Reports from the field reveal the duplicity of the US-Aquino regime’s one-month Suspension of Military Operations and Suspension of Police Operations. Prior to the start of its own supposed Somo and Sopo on December 18 and up to this day, combat forces under the Eastern Mindanao Command-AFP continue to occupy and operate in the following towns and provinces in Southern Mindanao and boundary provinces,” Simon Santiago, the political director of the NPA in Southern Mindanao, said.
Santiago said that just a day after Malacañang announced the holiday truce on Dec. 18, soldiers from various units in Southern Mindanao were deployed to Barangay Malibago in Cateel, Davao Oriental. Another batch of soldiers also arrived in Barangay Binondo in Baganga, also in Davao Oriental.
Santiago said that since Dec. 18, troops have been sent to various areas of Davao City, Compostela Valley, North Cotabato and Agusan del Sur.
“The continued troops deployment, build-up and hamletting in these areas belie the claim made by the US-Aquino regime in declaring a ceasefire during the traditional Christmas season,” he said.
Santiago said the deployment have been actual offensive maneuvers – which have posed risk, not only to the NPA, but to the civilians as well.
“Their blatant occupation of civilian areas while supposedly in suspended military operations is highly provocative and increases the risk of armed engagements with the Red fighters amid civilian-populated areas,” he said.
Santiago also accused soldiers – particularly in Barangay (village) Catihan in Boston and in Barangay Mainit in Cateel, Davao Oriental – of apparently using civilians.
“The Bravo Company of (67th Infantry Battalion) stay in civilian houses in sitio Bangas, Barangay Mainit, Cateel. They mingle with residents and do some activities with them like catching fish and other edibles accompanied by teenagers and children,” he said.
“AFP troops who are operating in civilian areas either underhandedly or blatantly are on offensive combat operations and, except for those who are inside their detachments and outposts, shall be treated as legitimate targets by the NPA,” he said.
Santiago said that while the NPA has adopted a defensive mode, the “continued provocation and deception made by the AFP troops while pretending to be on Somo and Sopo, make it even more imperative for the Red fighters to launch tactical offensives against these fascist troops anytime and anywhere.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.