NPA reports recent victories in Albay; AFP counters with rebel surrender claims

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Bicol reports successful ambuscades in Albay province this month, countering Philippine Army claims of demoralization in the ranks of communist guerrillas in the region.

The NPA said its Santos Binamera Command in Albay killed seven soldiers of the Philippine Army’s (PA) 49th Infantry Battalion in a clash in the town of Jovellar last October 3 while suffering no casualty of their own.

This followed a series of offensive military operations in the province that resulted in the death of nine more government troopers since September, the NPA claimed.

Raymundo Buenfuerza, NPA Bicol spokesperson, said their recent successes in Albay is a slap on both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) that claim counter-insurgency programs have weakened the rebel army in the region.

“[The] Red army still is, and will remain, unfaltering,” Buenfuerza said in a statement.

The rebel spokesperson said their recent victories continue to defeat “massive and intensive” government military operations in Albay.

“Not less than 11 combat companies of AFP-PNP are deployed while 20 CAFGU detachments are in the area. The Philippine Air Force’s Tactical Operations Group 5, Philippine Navy’s 4th Naval Station and Naval Task Force 41 – NAVFORSOL as well as PNP Region V’s central commands also have their bases in Albay,” the NPA-Romulo Jallores Command spokesperson said.

“Despite this, the Red army is exemplary in continuously reaping victories in the field,” Buenfuerza said.

The PA has not made statements on the latest NPA claims of recent successful ambuscades.

Instead, the PA’s 9th Infantry Division announced that seven NPA members surrendered in Masbate province last October 16 while one of its units have killed a rebel fighter in a clash in Barangay Liong, Cataingan town last October 8.

Second Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Orlando Ramos Jr. identified the slain alleged NPA fighter as Lito Villaces Ajena, alias Cesar.

Buenfuerza said the NPA in Bicol are set to launch more and bigger military offensives in the region in the future.

“The NPA cannot be stopped and will never be defeated. It will continue to advance until the people’s democratic revolution’s complete victory,” Buenfuerza said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)