DAVAO CITY – Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang denounced anew the series of atrocities committed by the communist group New People’s Army (NPA) against the Indigenous Peoples (IP) in hinterland communities in Barangay Mahan-ub, Baganga town.
Davao Oriental provincial information officer Karen Deloso said Saturday the NPA harassed the tribal villages four times this month alone.
Based on the report of the Army’s 701st Infantry Brigade (701st IBde), Deloso said government troops engaged the rebels in the area on April 11, 12, 16, and 18, resulting in the death of two NPA fighters and in the confiscation of several high-powered firearms and three landmines.
Deloso said government troops also recovered subversive documents with high intelligence value from the NPA fighters who are believed to be members of the rebel movement’s Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC).
Dayanghirang said the NPA attacks on the IP settlements at a time when country is still struggling from the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) was reprehensible.
The governor said the incidents proved that the government should no longer negotiate with the NPA and its mother organization, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
“It has only been four days since the NPA harassed the IP residents in Baganga and attacked the troops of the Philippine Army despite their declaration of a unilateral ceasefire. And in the ensuing days, the group still managed to unleash terror on our innocent civilians,” Dayanghirang said.
He noted that the attacks came despite the reciprocal ceasefire declared by the CPP-NPA and its political organ, the National Democratic Front (NDF) on March 29, days after President Rodrigo Duterte called for a ceasefire with the NPA so that government forces can assist health workers and local government units in containing Covid-19.
“These unnecessary deaths would have been prevented if only they (NPA) abide by the rules of the ceasefire and cooperated with the government by surrendering which is the best way they can help our fellow Filipinos in these trying times,” said Dayanghirang.
Deloso said the IP communities are thankful to government troops “who came to their rescue. They are happy that the soldiers drove the NPA away from their land.”
Brig. Gen. Jose Eriel Niembra, 701st IBde commander, also condemned the NPA atrocities.
“We are calling for the NPA to stop threatening the communities for their own selfish ends. The current situation wherein everybody is vulnerable due to the threat of Covid-19 is already unbearable,” Niembra said.
“The NPA can best help by coming back to the folds of the law and be one with the people in fighting this pandemic,” he added. (PNA)