By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — The revolutionary movement scored against the government’s all-out offensive in three separate clashes in the Cordillera. The firefight between the Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) and New People’s Army (NPA) occurred in Mountain Province and Abra last week.
According to Nolcom reports, three soldiers were killed while four others were wounded in battle while the rebels suffered undetermined casualties. Nolcom withheld the names of their casualties pending the notification of their families.
The NPA’s Chadli Molintas Command (CMC-NPA) operating in Ilocos and the Cordillera has confirmed their units figured in the said firefights through a statement released on July 17.
“The three consecutive tactical offensives is the NPA’s answer to the intensified military operations of the fascist AFP-PNP,” said Martin Montana, CMC-NPA spokesperson, adding that their forces took no casualties from the battles.
He said the AFP launched intensified operations in the different areas in Ilocos and Cordillera since the first week of June.
The area command’s spokesperson, Lt. Col. Isagani Nato, said two encounters occurred in Sitio Dandanac, Tamboan, Besao, Mountain Province. A soldier was wounded in the first battle on July 14 at around 8:40 am while the following day’s clash resulted in the death of three soldiers and wounding of two more from the 81st Infantry Battalion.
The army troopers also lost a K3 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), two R4 rifles, an M203 grenade launcher and a handheld Harris radio.
However, CMC’s Montana claimed it was not an encounter but rather local NPA forces taking defense and tactical offensives against operating AFP troops. On July 18, the Antonio Licawen Front Operational Command (ALFOC) acknowledged initiating the offensive against the government troops.
According to Salaknib Moteverde of ALFOC, the 81st IB suffered heavy casualties including six killed in action and admitted confiscating the said armaments, including undetermined number of ammunition.
A 20-minute encounter was also reported in the adjacent province of Abra on Saturday afternoon, July 14 where, a personnel of the 24th IB, was wounded on the right leg.
Montana said that Agustin Begnalen Command-NPA Abra reported a snipping operation against operating troops of the 24th IB in Sitio Gambang, Brgy. Bazar, Sallapadan that wounded a soldier.
Nato stressed that NolCom will conduct relentless operations against the rebels to bring “peace, stability and development.”
Monterverde said the 81st IB has a long list of human rights violation committed against the residents of adjacent towns in Ilocos and Cordillera. The rebel also accused the troop of protecting the interest of tobacco, mining and energy corporations in the area.
Deployment areas of the 81st IB forces are where people’s struggles against corporate mining and energy projects, landlords and usurers, and contract farming are present. The unit’s area of operation covers the Ilocos provinces, and Besao and Tadian in Mountain Province.
Meanwhile, the CMC leader said there are 15 communities in Ilocos-Cordillera under the Nolcom’s “Peace and Development Team” operations, with nine barangays in Ilocos Sur, three each in Mountain Province and Abra, and one in Ifugao. Non-stop combat operations are also taking place in Kalinga, with government troops encamped inside communities
Ready for war
“The intensified operations are part of the government’s effort to pressure the CPP-NPA to accept the localized peace talks,” said Montana.
He added the NPA is ready and revolutionary masses are ready to fight and foil all counter-revolutionary efforts of the fascist Duterte regime.
On their part, Monteverde announced that they are ready to face the all-out war to defend and fight for the life, land, rights and freedom of the Filipino people. Just last week, the Communist Party of the Philippines expressed their readiness to confront Duterte’s “let us go to war” pronouncement. # nordis.net