NPA: Armed struggle to continue regardless who wins in May
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The New People’s Army (NPA) has vowed to continue with its armed struggle regardless of the outcome of the elections in May.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Rigoberto Sanchez, the NPA spokesperson for Southern Mindanao, said the future of the insurgency would not be dependent on the result of the elections.
“Whatever the outcome of the elections, the New People’s Army will continue to defend and fight for the democratic interests of the Filipino people,” he said.
According to Sanchez, the armed resistance will continue until the plunder of the people’s resources stops, and land reform and nationalist industrialization for sovereignty and social justice are achieved.
He also said the NPA did not believe that these changes would be achieved with the elections.
“With only three months to go before his detestable term ends, Aquino is hell-bent in pushing for another Daang Matuwid run with his similarly appalling lackey, Mar Roxas. As proven in our long colonial history, US machinations in the upcoming elections will ensure that the next President will remain a lapdog to its interests,” Sanchez added.
Sanchez claimed that the NPA has been reaping successive victories in its offensives.
He said in Southern Mindanao alone, the NPA launched 39 offensives and killed 79 soldiers during the past eight weeks alone.
The military confirmed a spike in NPA offensives but denied it suffered so many casualties.
“Since the AFP troops have become the brutal guard dogs for the greedy interests of multi-national companies such as Dole and SUMIFRU and large-scale mining companies such as Agusan Petroleum Company, Apex Mining Corporation, St. Augustine Mines and Minerals-—the masses and the revolutionary forces have valiantly opposed and resisted them,” he said.
Sanchez also said the NPA would continue to defend the helpless masses from the abuses by the military. He said in just a matter of two months this year, soldiers had already killed seven people – including a 15-year-old Manobo boy in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
In Northern Mindanao, the NPA also said it has been carrying out attacks against the military.
The latest of this was the series of engagements between government troops and Maoist rebels as the country commemorated the 30th anniversary of People Power last Feb. 25, Maria Malaya, the spokesperson of the National Democratic Front in Northeastern Mindanao Region, said.
“These NPA tactical offensives show that armed revolution is imperative, because the so-called ‘peaceful people power revolution of Edsa’ was not able to provide for genuine solutions to the basic problems of the Filipino people,” Malaya said in a statement.
The military said among those targeted by the NPA was a medical mission in a remote area of Bukidnon. Last Thursday, the NPA also attacked a team of soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Battalion while delivering government services in Sitio Kitondaw in Barangay Sangay in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.
“Obviously, the NPA does not want the government services to be brought to the community so that they can continue to exploit issues such as the lack of basic services and injustice among our Lumad brothers,” Lt. Col. Lennon Babilonia, commander of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion based in Bukidnon, said.
As to the rebels’ vow to continue with its armed struggle, a military officer in Southern Mindanao said the NPA’s strength has been eroded by the surrender of its members disillusioned by the false hopes its leaders had given them and diminishing community support.
Lt. Col. Ronnie Babac, commander of the 73rd Infantry Battalion based in Malita, Davao Occidental, said in February alone, five rebels surrendered to his unit because of “unfulfilled promises” of NPA leaders, such as support for their families.
“The continued difficulty they faced in the hinterlands also forced them to yield,” he said.
Babac also said the military has been using “gentle persuasion” aside from conducting combat operations in a bid to defeat communists in his areas of jurisdiction.
This included engaging parents and relatives of rebels and village officials in dialogues in the provinces of Davao Occidental, Sarangani and portions of Davao del Sur.
“During the dialogues, we ask their relatives and village officials to convince them to surrender,” he said.
Babac said the NPA was also losing support from among the villagers because of abuses and extortion activities.
In July last year, he said officials of the remote village of Datal Anggas in Alabel, Sarangani passed a resolution formally declaring NPA members as persona non grata.
The villagers have accused the NPA of committing “deception, extortion and other forms of abuses” against villagers and that by barring them, officials said they hoped the excesses would stop.
“The little money they earn from communal farming would go to the rebels because if they did not give in to the demands, they would automatically be branded anti-communists,” he said. SFM
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.