THE NEW PEOPLE’S ARMY (NPA) said that President Rodrigo Duterte was deceived by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) when it claimed the ambush that killed one paramilitary trooper and injured four others in Bagnakan, Sitio Muling, Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte last July 27 was unprovoked.
In response to Duterte’s demand to explain the ambush, NPA ComVal-North Davao-South Agusan Subregional Command’s spokesperson Aris Francisco said in a statement that the Civilian Auxilliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) under the 72nd Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army and Alamara paramilitary troops were engaged in an active combat operation when they were ambushed by the NPA.
Francisco belied that the government forces were merely returning to their base from their Peace and Development Outreach Program.
In a speech at the Southern Luzon Command at Camp General Nakar in Quezon Province last July 28, Duterte accused the the NPA of ignoring his unilateral ceasefire declaration and continue to conduct offensive military operations against government troops.
“Ano ba ito? Are we into this truce or are we not? Sabi ko sa kanila, ‘Give me an answer by tonight because, kapag tomorrow wala, tatanggalin ko. Balik tayo sa away,’” Duterte said,.
But Francisco said the AFP twisted facts and made Duterte believe they were engaged in civilian activities.
“The AFP and the Alamara have been on active operation in Kapalong, resulting in several engagements, including its July 5 ambush that wounded one Red fighter,” Francisco said.
“Determined to continue its offensive military operations in Kapalong, the same troops ignored the ceasefire declaration of their Commander In Chief and again took off for (a) combat operation from their detachment in Brgy. Patil on July 26,” he added.
Duterte announced his government’s unilateral ceasefire declaration with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) during his first State of the Nation Address last July 25.
The NPA spokesperson said they were simply defending themselves by intercepting the government troops who were 20 kilometers away from their camp.
Francisco said that the AFP and its paramilitaries like the Alamara ridicule Duterte in sabotaging the peace process.
“The NPA abides with the spirit of the resumption of the peace negotiations in addressing the roots of the civil war, respects the ceasefire order of…Duterte, and strictly adheres to the directive of the national leadership and the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)[to maintain on alert status and active defense mode],” Francisco said.
The Duterte administration is set to resume formal peace negotiations with the NDFP, which the CPP and the NPA are allied organizations, on August 20.
The CPP is yet to issue its own unilateral declaration of ceasefire in response to Duterte’s truce order. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)