The Chadli Molintas Command (CMC) of the New People’s Army (NPA) – Ilocos-Cordillera Region salutes the Agustin Begnalen Command (ABC) of NPA-Abra for the twin victorious ambushes against operating troops of the 24th IB and 72nd Division Reconnaisance Company (DRC) last January 4 in Malibcong, Abra. The series of ambushes occurred at 8:30 AM and 2:30 PM in the forested mountainous area of barangay Pacgued. Seven enemy troops were killed while five others were wounded in the firefights. Among the killed in action was the commanding officer of the operating troops, 2nd Lt. Zaldy D. Lapis, Jr. of the 72nd DRC. Right after the skirmishes, the AFP dispatched their air assets to drop bombs around the ambush sites and retrieve their casualties. For three consecutive days from January 5 to 7, bomber planes of the AFP dropped no less than 23 bombs in the forests and around production areas (farm lots) near the communities of Pacgued and Mataragan of Malibcong and the vicinity of Sap-al in Brgy. Buneg of the Municipality of Lacub. According to the spot report of the Agustin Begnalen Command, the NPA unit incurred no casualty and they were able to retreat safely.
For almost the entire year of 2020, the AFP troops repeatedly combed the barangays of Malibcong, Lacub, Tineg, Sallapadan, Boliney and Tubo in Abra. Militarization of the area continued without let up amidst the state of calamity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fascist mode of overly imposing anti-COVID health measures has only tremendously worsened the people’s sufferings where peasant communities have been turned into virtual hamlets. Under the militarist lockdown policy, checkpoints were unduly enforced, greatly affecting the mobility of civilians, where even going to ricefields, tending of farm animals and procurement of food supplies were strictly controlled. Civilians were subjected to interrogation, intimidation, coercion and surveillance on their normal daily activities even in the dead of night. Nightly military patrols always alarmed dogs inciting them to bark incessantly disturbing the sleeping residents.
Delivery of scanty relief packages to the interior communities have been used as a guise for extensive military operations against the NPA and peasant communities. Ironically, the AFP-PNP have wasted a much bigger budget on said operations, including the use of choppers, reconnaisance planes, drones and bomber planes, as compared to the minimal assistance provided to the peasant communities.
The latest round of battalion size operation involves a company of the 72nd DRC and companies of the 24th IB encompassing communities and forested areas of Malibcong and Lacub since the 3rd week of December. Once more, this has caused tension and fear among the community people, especially the elderly, women and children, who were supposed to be peacefully celebrating Christmas and the new year. Farm work in the area, which is at the peak of land preparation and planting stage, has also been disturbed as many of the peasants were afraid to go to their ricefields for fear of being subjected to harassment by military operating troops, as they have repeatedly experienced in the past. Last January 5, a civilian named Cabanting from Sitio Sap-al of Barangay Buneg, Lacub, was illegally arrested by reinforcing troops from the 24th IB.
Troops of the 24th IB and 72nd DRC have long earned the ire of the people of Abra and Ilocos for their long list of abuses. These include the forced occupation of communities and civilian facilities for extended periods under the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) operations to instill fear among the masses, illegal arrests and detention of civilians accused as NPAs, forced surrender of civilians presented as members of the CPP-NPA, continued harassment of community leaders and activists, the spreading of malicious intrigues to create disunity among the people, among others. While the people were denied relief assistance, expensive yet worthless propaganda leaflets were periodically dropped by helicopters littering the communities of Lacub and Malibcong. Last December 13, two AFP helicopters hovered over the barangays of Lacub, Malibcong and Sallapadan dropping propaganda leaflets. The civilians who picked up these leaflets were just too happy to use them as toilet paper. Earlier, last February of 2020, four youths of barangay Lan-ag in Lacub have been indiscriminately fired upon by 24th IB troops for no apparent reason. Fortunately, none was hit by the raging bullets of the enemy.
Contrary to the fascist US-Duterte regime’s declaration of the CPP-NPA as terrorists, the revolutionary people’s army enjoys the wide support of the masses. Alongside the struggling oppressed and exploited peasantry in the countryside, all units, Red commanders and fighters under the CMC will do their utmost to frustrate the mercenary AFP-PNP and their masters’ pipe dream and repeatedly extended target of ending the people’s armed revolution before July 2021. ##