By KIMBERLIE NGABIT QUITASOL & SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY (updated Mar 30, 2:22 pm) — Communist-rebels in Mountain Province marked the Golden Anniversary of the New People’s Army today, Mar 29, with an attack against operating troops from the Philippine National Police-Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB15) Cordillera.
The clash happened at around 9:30 AM at Mount Kapuwao, Barangay Bagnen Proper in Bauko municipality.
In a statement, the Leonardo Pacsi Command (LPC) of the NPA said one of its units engaged the police in a 15-minute fight that resulted in the wounding of at least one government troop.
“The said tactical offensive is a response to the directive of the National Operations Command of the New People’s Army to launch military actions nationwide as part of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the NPA,” said the statement.
The rebels accused the police of carrying missions disguised as “protecting the environment and national interest” in connivance with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that displaces indigenous peoples from their livelihood while protecting plunderous projects.
In a recorded audio posted in Facebook on Mar 30 the spokesperson of LPC-NPA, Ka Magno Udyaw, said there were no casualties on the part of the rebels. He also belied the claim of the police that the operation prevented them from celebrating their anniversary.
“Ti kinapudnona naisayangkat a natalged ken nasayaat diay 50th anibersario ti NPA iti Mountain Province. Naragsak ken naimballigian a naisayangkat daytoy (The truth is, the 50th anniversary celebration was safe and wonderful. It was festive and successfully conducted ),” said the rebel spokes.
Police General Oscar Albayalde, who was in Camp Bado Dangwa in La Trinidad, Benguet for a command conference with Police Regional office Cordillera (PROCor), said the clash was a result of a police operation in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to end the insurgency problem within his term.
A police operative was killed and another was wounded in the battle according to Police Major Carolina Lacuata, PROCor spokesperson.
She identified the fatality as Patrolman Wilfredo Padawil, from Tetep-an, Sagada , who was declared dead on arrival at the Luis Hora Memorial Hospital at around 1:30 pm. The other casualty, P/Cpl. Irpeel Lapniten, from Bayoyo, Buyacaoan, Buguias, Benguet is now in a stable condition at the same hospital.
PROCor said their troops, under the command of P/Capts. Le Vonn Madalang and Graeme Javier, were acting on information provided by the populace, when they encountered undetermined rebels in clash site.
The police believe the NPA suffered casualties based on blood stains in the combat area. Government forces are still conducting pursuit operation against rebels.
In an earlier statement, the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF) said the role of the armed rebellion led by the CPP is “undeniable” in the advancement of the indigenous peoples’ “struggle for self-determination and democracy.”
“The revolutionary movement was also the first to study the history and the circumstances that brought national oppression as the particular problem burdening the people of the Cordillera,” claimed Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan, CPDF spokesperson.
He said the NPA assisted the people to successfully fight the Marcos-backed Chico Dam and the logging operation of Cellophil Resources.
“The people still cannot forget up to present how the NPA waged its campaign against anti-social activities such as gambling, robberies and cattle-rustling in the communities,” the rebel leader recalled.
Naogsan said many inter-tribal conflicts were peacefully resolved with the help of the NPA. The red fighters also took punitive actions against “plunderous and destructive projects” such as mining.
According to him, the first NPA unit was organized in Ifugao in 1971 and spread across six provinces of the Cordillera by the last part of the decade.
Meanwhile, the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee (ICRC) of the CPP called on all NPA units under its leadership to be more vigorous in intensifying the “people’s war.”
Dated Mar 29, the statement said the rebels thwarted fierce military campaign by the past administration and will continue to frustrate the counter-insurgency campaign of the Duterte administration.
ICRC claimed the series of tactical offensives such as the successful raid in a CAFGU detachment Kalinga last Dec 2018 are proof the government’s military campaign is failing.
The regional leadership of the CPP directed the NPA to launch more offensives, giving priority to attacks where they can confiscate arms.
They pointed out that NPA guerrillas should take advantage of the contempt and anger of the people against the Duterte regime to rally them for the armed revolution according to the directive.
ICRC said there is a need to launch mass campaigns and struggles that will help the people overcome fear and answer their needs to effectively frustrate Oplan bayanihan.
Also, the statement reminded the rebels to comprehensively advance the armed revolution by strengthening their mass base, increasing the ranks of the NPA, implementing agrarian revolution. # nordis.net