Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday branded the New People’s Army (NPA) as the true enemies of the people as he called to public to rise up against the communist group’s oppression and terror tactics.
This, as four — two government troops and two rebels, were killed while 10 other soldiers were wounded following a clash with NPA rebels in Davao City on Thursday afternoon.
In a statement, Lorenzana said that while the Duterte administration is very much committed to attaining lasting peace in the country, the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF), continued to sow chaos and violence.
“They rely on treachery and guile to trick the innocent into joining their misguided cause, and killing those who oppose them,” Lorenzana said.
“I am one with the President in condemning the atrocities committed by the NPA, and in rightfully labeling them as terrorists.
I call on the Filipino people to rise up against these criminals and terrorists,” he added.
At around 4:20 p.m. on Thursday, elements of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Battalion (IB), aboard five military trucks, encountered members of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command-1 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee along the boundary of barangays Lacson lamanan in Calinan District, Davao City.
As a result, two soldiers were killed in action while 10 others were wounded.
On the other hand, two NPA rebels were also killed and their bodies were recovered in the encounter site.
Lorenzana urged the public to deny the communist of refuge to their communities and coordinate with government authorities.
“We must intensify our fight against all forms of oppression and exploitation but we must open our eyes wide to see who our real enemies are. We must frustrate them at every turn by denying them foothold in our communities and by reporting all illegal and criminal activities to the proper authorities,” Lorenzana said.
“This fight our fight — the fight of every Filipino — and we will not stop until our country is free of those who want to rule through terror and oppression,” he added.
Peace negotiations between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF were suspended indefinitely by Duterte after the both panels failed to come up with a bilateral ceasefire agreement during the last round of talks in Rome.
The communist group insisted on the release of 400 political prisoners which Duterte rejected and subsequently called off the talks when the NPA launched series of atrocities in various parts of the country while a unilateral ceasefire was in effect.
Relatedly, the CPP yesterday branded as “highly dubious” military claims that NPA rebels ambushed a convoy of government forces and members of a private organization involved in relief operations in earthquake-stricken Surigao del Norte province.
“The reports coming from the AFP are highly dubious. The spokesmen of the AFP are weaving such false reports to deceive the public and disparage the NPA which had earlier unilaterally declared a ceasefire in the areas which were hardest hit by the February 10 earthquake,” the CPP said.
“The AFP wishes to discredit the NPA by making it appear that it is preventing relief operations in the revolutionary areas,” it added.
The CPP, instead turned the tables against the military, claiming the masses in the disaster areas are gravely concerned that the AFP is exploiting relief operations for counterinsurgency aims.
“The military offers to escort relief operations in order to allow its armed units entry into the areas and establish its oppressive presence in the midst of civilian communities to conduct intelligence and psywar operations,” the CPP said.