The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) confirmed the deaths of 10 people in the bombing of a New People’s Army camp by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Christmas Day in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.
In a statement Thursday, December 28, the CPP said it condemns the AFP for dropping scores of 250-pound bombs and firing Israeli-made 155 mm/52 caliber artillery rounds at the target that lasted until December 26.
“The aerial attack, which was carried out for several hours, constitutes a brazen violation of international humanitarian law and the civilized conduct of war as it is involves an disproportionate use of force relative to its target,” CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said.
“The bodies of some of fatalities were grossly mangled, while others were dismembered during the vicious overkill,” he added.
Valbuena said the bombs, over-flight of drones and fighter jets, and firing of howitzers caused widespread fear and trauma among the tens of thousands residents in various nearby barangays.
“It also caused the destruction of large masses of forest resources which are source of livelihood of people,” he further said.
Valbuena added that the use of massive 250-pound bombs against guerrilla fighters shows the blood lust of the AFP, unleashing firepower without respecting reason and the principles of laws of war.
The CPP said it declares the victims of the December 25 bombings as martyrs of the Filipino people.
In a press statement, the AFP said its attack was a pursuit operation by the 403rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division after receiving information about the guerrillas’ presence in Barangays Can-ayan, Kibalabag, Kulaman and Mapulo.
Major General Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the 4th ID, said there were three women among the NPA fighters killed.
A similar carnage happened in Balayan, Batangas last December 17 where eight NPA fighters and civilian supporters were killed by combined Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy troopers.
Local human rights groups also reported that the victims were mangled beyond recognition by government soldiers.
The Malaybalay incident happened at the start of a two-day unilateral ceasefire declaration of the NPA over Christmas and the CPP’s 55th founding anniversary last December 26.
The Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government refused to reciprocate the CPP-NPA ceasefire declaration despite announcing last November ongoing dialogues for the possible resumption of formal peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)