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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Reds refute military’s claims of arrests, surrender

Since the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Duterte administration, the CPP said that at least 219 barangays nationwide have been subject to counter-insurgency operations. They also assert that Duterte’s real goal is to “use the pandemic as an opportunity to try and crush the ‘insurgency’ before the end of his term in office,” pointing out the focus on military operations instead of social services.

By JUSTIN UMALI
Bulatlat.com

SANTA ROSA, Laguna – A claim by the Armed Forces of the Philippines regarding their successful arrest of a “regional intelligence officer of the NPA’s Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee” was refuted by the New People’s Army.

Lamberto Asinas was arrested by elements of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army, April 16, in barangay Bunducan, Nasugbu, Batangas. Asinas was described by 202nd IBde chief Col. Alex Rillera as a “high-value target.”

The NPA’s Eduardo Dagli Command in Batangas, however, issued a statement stating that Asinas is an “ordinary farmer much like the majority of farmers in Nasugbu who experience and suffer from widespread land-grabbing and land-use conversion.”

NPA Batangas Spokesperson Apolinario Matienza said in a statement that Asinas’ arrest was driven by “Col. Alex Rillera’s and Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos’ [2nd Infantry Division] desire to gain a promotion and a cash payout from milking E-CLIP [Enhanced Community Local Integration Program].”

E-CLIP is a livelihood program offered by the AFP for what they term “rebel returnees”, or members of the CPP-NPA-NDF and the People’s militias who wish to “return to the fold of the law and be with their families.” The National Democratic Front of the Philippines has on multiple occasions asserted that E-CLIP is a “money making scheme” by the government and that the money was being taken by PNP and AFP officials.

‘Fake news’

This is not the first time AFP reports were refuted by the NPA and other sources.

On March 28, the 2nd Infantry Division claimed that 40 NPA members operating in Rizal, Laguna, and Quezon provinces surrendered in a ceremony performed in Camp Vicente Lim, Calamba, Laguna. That same day, they also alleged to have defended against an assault in barangay Puray, Rodriguez, Rizal, killing two NPA soldiers in the process.

Both claims have been rebuffed by the Communist Party of the Philippines. Marco Valbuena, CPP chief information officer, called the surrender ceremonies “a big farce” and “a gross lie.” NDFP Negotiating Panel Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili, meanwhile, stated that the NPA guerrillas were in barangay Puray to conduct a medical mission “in response to the call of the CPP to secure the well-being and health of the people, especially in the fight against COVID-19.”

A statement by the 8th Infantry Division alleging that members of the NPA confiscated relief goods in sitio Bangon, barangay Guinmayohan, Balangiga, Eastern Samar, April 7, was rebuffed by local officials. The mayor, Randy Graza, said that they neither received any reports, nor did anybody report an incident to his office.

The 303rd Infantry Brigade released a statement, April 19, claiming that they were ambushed by an “undetermined number” of NPA members in barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental while they were conducting “community security patrol in connection with the distribution of Social Amelioration Program (SAP) of DSWD.” The report alleged that the NPA was extorting communities to force them to give money and rice.

This was refuted by the Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson for the NPA’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command in Negros, who stated that the 303rd IB was on “full and sustained combat operation” for more than a week before the incident. He also stressed that the NPA does not take food aid, and that the incident was not a tactical offensive but a “necessary performance of active defense.”

Most recently, an April 18 report by the 61st Infantry Battalion which claimed that they encountered an “NPA training ground” in Miag-ao, Iloilo resulting in the death of one NPA member and the capture of 11 others.

Human rights watchdog Panay Alliance Karapatan refuted the claims, stating that the AFP killed one civilian and detained 12 others in an encounter. The civilian was peasant leader John Farochilin, who was an officer of Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (PAMANGGAS), while the 12 detained were honey gatherers from Brgy. Igpanulong, Sibalom, Antique.

The NPA Mt. Napulak Command in Southern Panay also refuted the claims, denying that an encounter took place.

‘True motive’

Matienza charged that Asinas’ arrest was in line with the Duterte administration’s policy of “prioritizing strong-arming and harassment of barangays and local governments to force them to declare the CPP-NPA-NDF [Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front] as persona non grata.”

The state-run Philippine Information Agency noted that since the activation of the Batangas Provincial Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict on September 9, 2019, 625 barangays have passed resolutions banning the presence of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
Matienzo, however, countered that “a significant number of barangays have actually opposed military presence and the continuation
of unjust military operations in their communities.” He also said that the “NPA ‘surrenderees’ that they tout are actually civilians that were intimidated, forced, and fooled into appearing as NPA members who surrendered under E-CLIP.”

“Asinas’ arrest and the successive attacks by the military in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis only prove that the US-Duterte regime’s true motive isn’t to fight COVID-19 but to control the civilian population in order to push a de facto Martial Law in the communities,” he added.

Since the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Duterte administration, the CPP said that at least 219 barangays nationwide have been subject to counter-insurgency operations. They also assert that Duterte’s real goal is to “use the pandemic as an opportunity to try and crush the ‘insurgency’ before the end of his term in office,” pointing out the focus on military operations instead of social services.

The GRP ceasefire lapsed on April 15, while the CPP has extended its own unilateral ceasefire until April 30. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

The post Reds refute military’s claims of arrests, surrender appeared first on Bulatlat.

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