AFP report of relief convoy ‘ambush’ dubious–CPP

THE Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denied its New People’s Army (NPA) fired upon a relief convoy in Barangay Linunggaman, San Francisco, Surigao del Norte last February 15.

In a statement today, the CPP affirmed the NPA’s earlier denial that a Philippine Army-escorted convoy, which included relief personnel of ABS-CBN’s Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, was attacked by its guerrillas.

Philippine Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Rico Amaro immediately blamed the incident to NPA guerrillas.

The commander of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. also accused the NPA for violating its own ceasefire.

“They have deceived the entire nation when they fired upon the team that is composed of Army and civilian volunteers who have just delivered relief goods to the earthquake-stricken communities,” Madrigal said

The NPA in North East Mindanao declared a ceasefire immediately after the 6.7 magnitude earthquake last February 10 to allow unhampered delivery of relief to affected communities.

“The AFP wishes to discredit the NPA by making it appear that it is preventing relief operations in the revolutionary areas,” the CPP said.

The CPP statement said earthquake survivors are in fact gravely concerned over the AFP alleged exploitation of the relief operations for its counterinsurgency operations.

“The military offers to ‘escort’ relief operations in order to allow its armed units entry into the areas and establish its oppressive presence in the midst of civilian communities to conduct intelligence and psywar  (psychological warfare) operations,” the CPP said.

The underground party however encouraged civilian volunteer organizations to undertake relief operations in their controlled territories.

The CPP assured the volunteers’ security and well-being as long as they decline offers of “security” by the AFP and instead coordinate with civic and relief organizations.

“They can work with international donor organizations, even with GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) agencies to facilitate the entry of financial and other forms of assistance,” the CPP said.

The CPP also said the NPA is being mobilized by local CPP organs to reconstruct homes, civil infrastructures and farms damaged by the earthquake.  (Raymund B. Villanueva)