The New People’s Army – Mount Cansermon Command (NPA-MCC) garnered a victory for the people on its recent encounter with the 1st platoon of the 94th Infantry Batallion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), last April 19, in Sitio Kamuag, Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental. The firefight lasted for 47 minutes. The AFP suffered at least 8 Killed-In-Action (KIA), including their Platoon Commanding Officer.
The encounter was in no way a violation of the unilateral ceasefire declared by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) until April 30. The said unit was in active defense mode upon receiving reports of military presence around the mountainous barangay since April 14, while conducting mass campaigns regarding Covid 19, public health, and emergency food production. In fact, in their various interviews, the AFP claim they ‘received reports of NPA presence and acted on it’, which proves they were the ones instigating an encounter.
Starting from April 14 (which was a direct violation of their ceasefire) until the today, the 94th IB were already conducting operations in Sitios Bulod, Daat, Kanagbaan, Kasipongan, Cunalom in Barangay Carabalan, Sitios Asaran and Cantupa in Barangay Buenavista, Sitios Palasanan and Double Yarding in Mahalang. The AFP troops were also occupying Cunalom Elementary School, which is a violation of the International Humanitarian Law. They were not conducting testing, nor were the AFP in any way concerned in the well-being of the people. They are also possible carriers of Covid 19, and their operations without wearing masks or other Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) prove harmful to the masses.
The AFP’s claims that they were conducting security operations for relief distribution are lies. The barangay proper of Carabalan was more than 10 km away from the encounter site. The masses also claim that only a select few received the grant from the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
Furthermore, they should avoid recycling their argument that they ‘anticipated’ NPA attacks on relief drives just like what happened in Balangiga when: 1) the Balangiga LGU already refuted the claim that NPA took their relief and 2) it is the AFP who industriously conduct food blockades during crisis (during the massive Lumad Killings and Displacement, and the Taal Volcano eruption).
It is important to note that the position of the NPA camp was not designed for an ambush. The AFP themselves with their supposed military expertise know that it was in lower ground. The NPA unit was forced to be in active defense mode when AFP troops conducted operations around the area. If the Duterte regime and the AFP is really sincere in aiding the poor, it should’ve long reallocated its huge intelligence fund for the public health crisis, rather than blatantly aggravating the situation.
The NPA grieve the loss of the recent PMA graduate and his fellow troopers. We send their families out condolences. We also urge the rank-and-file troops who are just cannon fodder while their higher-ups bask in their corrupted wealth to defect to the New People’s Army and truly serve the people.
The NPA will continue its mass campaigns to aid in the Covid 19 pandemic and even beyond. The unilateral ceasefire will still be observed as ordered by the CPP.
Hence, we urge the Congress to make an inquiry on what really transpired in Barangay Carabalan. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and progressive organizations should also launch Fact-Finding Missions to further investigate. It is the AFP who continuously make strides to hamper the possibility of peace negotiations. The AFP’s vicious lies will be disproved on witness accounts, and their desperate attempts to save face will further isolate them from the people. ###