By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — The New People’s Army (NPA) operating in the Ilocos and Cordillera denied that its fighters incurred casualties in the September 26 clash in Aguid, Sagada, Mountain Province.
“Contrary to the pronouncement of Brig. Gen. Henry Doyaoen, 503rd Infantry Brigade commander, there are no casualties on the side of the NPA,” said Chadli Molintas Command-NPA Ilocos-Cordillera spokesperson Martin Montana in a statement.
The army commander claimed that soldiers might have killed or injured members of the NPA involved in the attack citing blood stains founds in the rebel’s escape route.
Based on military accounts, government forces were scouring the area when they chanced upon the rebels. However, Montana said that guerillas under the Leonardo Pacsi Command (LPC) ambushed the troops from the Charlie Company of the 50th Infantry Battalion.
The 30-minute firefight started at around 11:30 am and left one soldier dead and another wounded. Army Major Noriel Tayaban, 5th Infantry Division confirmed the demised of Cpl. Jordan Malnawa of Pinukpuk, Kalinga but withheld the name of the injured soldier.
According to Montana, the troops waylaid by the communist guerrillas are part of the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM)-directed focused military operation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The dragnet covers the municipalities of Bontoc, Sagada, Besao, Tadian and Bauko in Mountain Province and the adjacent town of Tubo in Abra.
Plunder and threats
“The massing of fascist troops in this part of the Cordillera is intended to clear the area of NPA presence, thwart the Cordillera people’s resistance to and pave the way for the entry of plunderous foreign and comprador interests over the much-coveted resources of the region,” Montana said.
In a separate statement, Magno Udyaw of LPC-NPA that Oplan Kapanatagan made the same claim, noting, “it brought plunder and widespread human rights violations in Mountain Province.”
“Under the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict it is easier for the AFP-PNP to use local government unit, government agencies, and fake organizations to interfere in the communities and suppress the people’s struggle against these projects,” he explained.
The rebel leaders identified Cordillera Exploration Company, Incorporated (CEXCI), a subsidiary of Nickel Asia, as one of the reasons the government launched the military offensive.
Udyaw identified other intended projects in the area like the Sta. Clara-Philnewriver Hydropower Companies and the BIMAKA Renewable Energy Development Corp. in Besao.
Meanwhile, Montana mentioned the [Ilocos] Transbasin Dam in Quirino, Ilocos Sur that will tap the Abra River as an existing threat to the people of the area. The dam project is the alternative of the National Irrigation Administration after the affected communities successfully thwarted the Gregorio Del Pilar Impounding Project in Salcedo, Ilocos Sur. # nordis.net