The Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao denounced the sinister combat operation of the 39thIB-AFP in Makilala, North Cotabato which resulted in a firefight with Red fighters yesterday, January 21 even as the third round of peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is underway.
At around 5:00 in the morning yesterday, troops from the 39th IB-AFP arrived at Sitio Concepcion, Brgy. Kisante, Makilala and launched offensive operation towards Sitio Lokatong in Brgy. Biangan where an NPA unit was encamped. Having monitored the enemy’s movement, Red fighters promptly maneuvered to avoid armed encounter. At around 5:00 in the afternoon, the 39th IB troops caught up with Red fighters and engaged them in an hour-long firefight which martyred one guerrilla fighter. Eight enemy troops were killed.
The war dogs of the 39th IB and the entire AFP cannot wash its hands clean of this flagrant violation of their own ceasefire: Sitio Lokatong in Brgy. Biangan is a remote area that their presence can only mean an offensive operation against the NPA. Furthermore, they fool no one by claiming that their combat operation was merely in response to reports by local authorities of the presence of lawless groups: for the entire day, they actively maneuvered to engage the evading unit of the NPA.
In truth, since late August last year, the fascist 39th IB did not abide by the GRP’s unilateral indefinite ceasefire. A mere week following the GRP declaration, it dispatched peace and development outreach program (PDOP) teams in barangay halls, health centers and schools in Kidapawan City, Pres. Roxas, Magpet and Arakan municipalities in North Cotabato. It, likewise, continued to mobilize its troops and paramilitaries in various forms of combat operations such as intelligence gathering, combat and psywar in far-flung areas that resulted in harassments; extra-judicial killings of civilians Rita and Norberto Gascon on September 13 in Arakan and Rolan Malignan on November 22 and the enforced evacuation of several families in Magpet on December 6.
The NPA consistently demonstrated its commitment the negotiations while the AFP and the PNP have continued to make a mockery of the peace process. For more than three months, the ceasefire only existed because the NPA was consciously maneuvering its forces in order to avoid armed skirmish in the face of unrelenting combat operations of AFP and PNP troops.
The Duterte government must know by now that it is the bullish insincerity of its armed forces to continue its counter-insurgency campaign that is the biggest impediment in the quest for just and lasting peace.