NPA suspends offensives vs gov’t forces in Caraga, Southern Mindanao
DAVAO CITY – The New People’s Army (NPA) on Sunday announced the suspension of tactical offensives against government forces in the Caraga region and parts of Southern Mindanao from Monday to Friday.
In a statement, Ariel Montero, the spokesperson of the New People’s Army North Eastern Mindanao Region, said the move was in “deference to the basic people’s right to vote freely during the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.”
“This particular directive is in response to the popular call for free, orderly, and safe conduct of the Barangay and SK elections,” he said.
While the communist movement does not believe in elections, he said it could not ignore the fact that voters had to exercise their right of suffrage.
Montero said while offensives were suspended, NPA rebels and other communist armed units would, however, “maintain a high level of alertness against deceptive attacks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) within our guerrilla fronts.”
“All units must firmly place themselves under the active defense mode and be prepared to launch counter-attacks in order to defend ourselves and the welfare of the people against the destructive attacks of enemy forces,” he added.
Despite the NPA’s statement, the Eastern Mindanao Command, which has jurisdiction over Caraga and Southern Mindanao, are not taking chances.
Maj. Ezra Balagtey, the Eastmincom spokesperson, said the military alone has deployed 8,500 troops to support the Comprehensive and Integrated Security Plan being implemented by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and government security forces in various provinces.
“Further, (military) transport equipment within (Eastmincom) control, such as floating and flying assets, are on alert status and will be deployed, if necessary, upon the deputization and order of the Comelec,” Balagtey said.
He added that the Election Monitoring Action Centers (EMAC) was established as part of the security mechanism.
The military, the police, and the Comelec have declared over 250 areas in Southern Mindanao as areas of concern – mainly because of the possibility of NPA attacks. /ee
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