Commies boast ‘victory’ in Mindanao as peace negotiators sign ceasefire deal

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - Front Page - (Mindanao Examiner)

COMMUNIST REBELS boasted their victory against government forces in southern Philippines, owning up the spate of attacks on soldiers in the rich, but restive region of Mindanao in southern Philippines.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a spokesman for the New People’s Army, said the attacks targeted at least three army battalions – 28th, 60th and 72nd – in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces where 5 soldiers were killed recently.

He accused the army as behind the series of extrajudicial killings of civilians accused either as supporter or sympathizers of the rebel group. “NPA units launched a series of tactical offensives against the atrocious 60th, 72nd and 28th infantry battalions, including (pro-government militia group) CAFGU for their numerous war crimes of peasant killings, aerial bombardment and other human rights violations in Laak town in Compostela Valley and in Mati City, Davao Oriental,” Sanchez said.

“These punitive actions were directed at the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) battalions and their rabid CAFGU that have perpetrated the most heinous violations which can only be described as war crimes against Lumad and peasants in their areas of operation in barely two months since the declaration of the government’s all-out war,” he added.]

Sanchez said over 170 families have fled the villages of Tagbinunga, Don Salvador and Calatagan, all in Mati City due to military bombardment that killed one farmer, Jeffrey Santos, and the illegal arrest of 11 other civilians. He said 3 civilians – Cora Molave Lino and couple Arlyn and Arman Almonicar – were also killed by soldiers in the village of Bollucan in Laak town that triggered an exodus of civilians.

“These war crimes, which are similarly prevalent in other parts of the country, only showcase exactly what - hitting them hard - and flattening the hills – (that President Duterte ordered the military - actually mean. Unarmed civilians are fair game in the fascist rampage of AFP troops in Southern Mindanao,” he said.

“As more and more fascist attacks are being committed against defenseless civilians under Oplan Kapayapaan, the murderous troops of the AFP and other reactionary forces are sure to be met head on not only by tactical offensives of the NPA, but also by all forms of revolutionary resistance of the people they have so viciously victimized in the wake of their all-out war,” Sanchez added.

Just last week, government peace negotiators led by Silvestre Bello announced that they signed an interim truce with the rebels following the resumption of stalled talks with the National Democratic Front headed by Fidel Agcaoili in the Netherlands, but the ceasefire would only take effect as soon as the guidelines and ground rules are approved.

The guidelines will govern such areas as the presence of armed groups in local communities; creation of buffer zones; prohibited, hostile and provocative acts including the collection of revolutionary taxes; and undertaking of joint socio-economic projects.

Negotiators also concluded provisions on a draft Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms meant to “address the root causes of the armed conflict” and agreed to the creation of a joint ceasefire committee and a third party to monitor the implementation of the truce, including the handling of complaints and ceasefire violations.

The rebels have been fighting for many decades now for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country.

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