Philip­pine rebels abduct 2 sol­diers, sev­eral mili­ti­a­men

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page -

COM­MU­NIST guer­ril­las ab­ducted two sol­diers and at least a dozen mili­ti­a­men and seized sev­eral ri­fles in an at­tack Wed­nes­day on an army base in the south­ern Philip­pines, of­fi­cials said, in the lat­est flare-up of an in­sur­gency that has raged for nearly half a cen­tury.

Mil­i­tary Chief of Staff Gen. Ben­jamin Madri­gal Jr. and po­lice of­fi­cials said gov­ern­ment forces were try­ing to track down about 80 New Peo­ple’s Army rebels who took the hostages in a pre-dawn at­tack on an army pa­trol base near Siba­gat town in Agu­san del Sur prov­ince, a hot­bed of the in­sur­gency.

Troops are check­ing whether some of the mili­ti­a­men who were re­ported to have been seized man­aged to es­cape and hide, Madri­gal said.

The guer­ril­las seized more than 20 as­sault ri­fles and two-way ra­dio equip­ment ap­par­ently without fir­ing a shot, of­fi­cials said.

“That’s the re­port we got, there’s no fire­fight,” said re­gional mil­i­tary com­man­der Maj. Gen. Ron­ald Vil­lanueva, sug­gest­ing the troops were over­whelmed.

The Marx­ist guer­ril­las will mark the 50th an­niver­sary of their Com­mu­nist Party of the Philip­pines on De­cem­ber 26. In the past, they have marked rev­o­lu­tion­ary mile­stones by wag­ing at­tacks, mil­i­tary of­fi­cials said.

The lat­est at­tack will likely fur­ther en­rage Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, who has scrapped Nor­way­bro­kered peace talks with the rebels to protest con­tin­u­ing in­sur­gent at­tacks on gov­ern­ment forces, agri­cul­tural plan­ta­tions and min­ing firms.

Due to the vi­o­lence per­pe­trated by the rebels, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to push through with the peace talks,” Duterte said in a speech late Tues­day. “I do not con­sider them rev­o­lu­tion­ary. They are just plain bandits and that is the way we should treat them.”

Known for his pub­lic out­bursts, the volatile pres­i­dent warned he would stop ac­cept­ing rebels who sur­ren­der be­cause of the con­tin­u­ing guer­rilla vi­o­lence.

“If the time comes that I get fed up with this, I will no longer ac­cept those who will sur­ren­der,” Duterte said. “No more sur­ren­ders be­cause you are a cruel and bru­tal peo­ple.”

Duterte said he was con­sid­er­ing a plan to con­tain tribes­men in the hin­ter­lands in a guarded area to keep them out of the in­sur­gents’ reach. The mil­i­tary has said the rebels have har­nessed some vil­lagers in tribal com­mu­ni­ties to fight gov­ern­ment forces, al­though hu­man rights groups have raised an alarm on the al­leged mil­i­tary abuses of tribal com­mu­ni­ties.

The re­bel­lion has raged in the Philip­pines’ im­pov­er­ished coun­try­side since 1969 in one of Asia’s long­est-rag­ing in­sur­gen­cies, caus­ing about 40,000 com­bat­ant and civil­ian deaths and un­der­min­ing se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment. The mil­i­tary es­ti­mates that up to 4000 Marx­ist in­sur­gents still fight de­spite years of bat­tle set­backs. – AP

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