To get false credit and to avoid embarrassment, officials of the 402nd Infantry Brigade of the AFP and the PNP-Caraga have deliberately obscured the real score behind their series of failed battles in encounters with the New People’s Army from July 20-August 15, 2019 in the 6 towns and 2 cities surrounding Mt. Hilong-Hilong. Contrary to the claim by the 29th IB of being the sole operating unit at the time, the AFP/ PNP actually mobilized over 1,000 troops, including test-mission forces from the 11th and 12th Scout Ranger company, supported by the 36th IB and PNP and CAFGU units. They were also reinforced by their air force, artillery and surveillance drones.
Caraga towns under these military operations include Sibagat, Agusan del Sur; Carmen, Cantilan, Madrid and San Miguel, all in Surigao del Sur; and, RTR, Agusan del Norte, as well as Butuan and Cabadbaran cities in Agusan del Norte.
Indeed, one Red fighter was martyred in a firefight between the NPA and the AFP in one of the battles, and the military was able to chance upon an NPA abandoned post. However, the AFP’s claim of “having seized Mt. Hilong-Hilong from the NPA” is a big lie because the terrain is not favorable for any guerrilla encampment due to freezing temperatures. Meanwhile, how pitiful of the AFP that it deliberately blows out of proportion its short-lived satisfaction of supposedly occupying an empty NPA post. Not only do they deceive themselves but the people as well, when it is public knowledge that anywhere in forested areas and the countryside may be transformed into temporary NPA posts.
The AFP even occupy Lumad farms and falsely claim these as “seized camps of the NPA.”
In truth, there had been 9 battles between the government and NPA forces from July 25 to August 12 that resulted in at least 12 casualties from the AFP and PNP. Confirmed dead were PFC. Marlon Calang and one 2nd Lieutenant from the 29th IB; while PFC. Bob Alex Talinis from the same unit sustained injuries. Most of the enemy casualties were hit on August 12 by the NPA’s command-detonated explosives in the hinterlands of Brgy. Mahaba, Cabadbaran City.
In retaliation, the military launched indiscriminate firing of cannons on four occasions from Brgys. Mahaba and Puting Bato, Cabadbaran City, using an overkill of more than 15 cannon shells in four days. Aside from this, they also conducted indiscriminate aerial bombings and strafing with the use of Agusta Westland attack helicopters. For these attacks alone, the AFP is estimated to have spent millions of pesos, to include expenses incurred for the heavy usage of Huey helicopters.
On the other hand, before and until the end of these operations, the AFP and the PNP continued to militarize more than 15 barangays covering Cabadbaran, RTR and Butuan in Agusan del Norte, Sibagat in Agusan del Sur, and Carmen, Madrid and Cantilan in Surigao del Sur through their deceptive Community Support Program designed to suppress people’s struggles. Forcible surrenders, leveling of trumped-up charges and psywar tactics were employed against the people in these barangays. Individuals tagged as “NPA supporters” were persistently harassed by AFP forces by way of threats and repeated summons to barangay halls where fascist troops were encamped. They conducted frequent house-to-house operations to force residents to surrender and cooperate with the military.
In Brgy. San Antonio, RTR, which has a CAA detachment, a farmer identified as Roger “Lilit” Mandag was murdered on July 30, 2019 by 29th IB forces. According to reports, before this incident, Mandag was repeatedly threatened and forced to surrender by the 29th IB.
All in all, what the AFP and the PNP usually boast of are made of nothing but deception and malice. The AFP/PNP obscure its own failures and whitewash its abuses against the people, upon orders from the butcher US-Duterte regime, under Oplan Kapanatagan that condones the insatiable greed of AFP/PNP officers for rank and money.###