DEPARTMENT of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is going all-out against the New People’s Army (NPA) two days after Government of the Philippines (GRP) President Rodrigo Duterte’s outburst against the underground revolutionary group.
“Yes, it is an all-out war,” Lorenzana said in a press briefing at Malacañan Palace Tuesday.
Lorenzana said the AFP is operating based on Duterte’s statement that the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA are terrorists.
“From now on I will consider the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines, NPA, and the National Democratic Front) a terrorist group,” Duterte said.
Lorenzana said the AFP’s “all-out war” is only directed against “the armed component of the NPA.”
The Defense chief verbalized AFP’s stepped-up combat operations even before Duterte’s termination of GRP’s unilateral ceasefire declaration with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA last February 3.
The reciprocal unilateral ceasefire declarations by the GRP and the Reds started unravelling when elements of the 39th Infantry Battalion attacked an NPA encampment in Makilala, North Cotabato while the Manila government and the NDFP were in the middle of formal peace negotiations in Rome, Italy last January 21.
On January 31, 67th IB troops deployed in a combat operation in Manay, Davao Oriental clashed with the NPA on February 1 and 2, resulting in the death of 2nd Lt. Victor Alejo.
In Mindoro Occidental, a 76th IB combat operation resulted in a clash with an NPA unit in Sta. Cruz town, resulting in the killing of one unidentified guerrilla.
On February 6, a combat operation of the Alpha Company deployed in Casiguran, Sorsogon clashed with an NPA unit that resulted in wounding of at least two GRP troopers identified as Corporal Jerome Tu and Private First Class Mart Maximo Osanida.
This morning, guerrillas of the Jose Percival Estocada Command ambushed elements of the 61st IB conducting combat operations in Tapaz, Capiz, reportedly killing two and wounding two more. RMN-Iloilo identified one of the fatalities as Corporal Ricky Bill P. Farinas.
“Active defense mode”
The NPA for its part has ordered all its units to be on active defense mode against AFP combat operations.
On February 4, its Jose Percival Estocada Command conducted a “military harassment operation” against 61th IB troopers in Lambunao, Iloilo who occupied a barangay hall of a Tumanduk community, the indigenous people’s group of central Panay island.
Guerilla spokesperson Jurie Guerrero said their attack was in response to numerous Tumanduk complaints against military presence in their communities.
Meanwhile, the NPA has yet to issue a statement on the alleged killing of two GRP soldiers in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon last February 2. (Raymund B. Villanueva)