NPA slams military for truce ‘violations’ in S. Mindanao | Inquirer News

NPA slams military for truce ‘violations’ in S. Mindanao

/ 12:00 AM December 25, 2014

DAVAO CITY—The New People’s Army (NPA) on Tuesday claimed the military defies its own declaration of suspension of military operations (Somo) by deploying more troops in Southern Mindanao, an allegation denied by the military.

Just a day after Malacanang announced the holiday truce on Dec. 18, soldiers from various units in Southern Mindanao were deployed to Barangay Malibago in Cateel, Davao Oriental, according to NPA political director for Southern Mindanao Simon Santiago.

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Another batch of soldiers also arrived in Barangay Binondo in Baganga, also in Davao Oriental.

Santiago said since Dec. 18, troops were also sent to various areas of Davao City, Compostela Valley, North Cotabato and Agusan del Sur.

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“The continued troop 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 are actual offensive maneuvers, which pose a risk not only to the NPA but to 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 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. 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 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.

But Santiago said while the NPA adopts a defensive mode, the “continued provocation and deception made by the AFP troops while pretending to be on Somo and suspension of police operations (Sopo), make it even more imperative for the Red fighters to launch tactical offensives against these fascist troops anytime and anywhere.”

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The military, however, denied it violated the truce that the government has declared for the holiday season.

Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command based here, said those deployed were part of the peace and development teams, who were conducting community work.

“They are in the barangays to facilitate development and it is stated in the Somo guidelines that community work are exempted from the prohibition,” Balagtey said.

Contrary to the NPA claim, he said that the peace and development teams had already been in the villages even before the Somo had been declared.

“While we adhere to the Somo, our duty to protect the community from atrocities remain,” he said. Allan Nawal and Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Agusan del Sur, Baganga, Binondo, Cateel, Compostela Valley, Davao City, Davao Oriental, Ezra Balagtey, Holiday Truce, Malacañang, Malibago, New People's Army, North Cotabato, NPA, Simon Santiago, Southern Mindanao
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