Manila Bulletin

Mercy mis­sion sur­vives NPA at­tack

Hu­man­i­tar­ian team had just dis­trib­uted re­lief goods to Suri­gao quake vic­tims

- By MIKE U. CRISMUNDO and FRAN­CIS T. WAKE­FIELD Military · Terrorism · Disasters · Middle East News · Latin America News · Politics · Earthquakes · Warfare and Conflicts · World Politics · Natural Disasters · Surigao City · New People's Army · Saudi Arabia · Communist Party of the Philippines · Philippines · Philippine Army · Armed Forces of the Philippines · Armed Forces of the Philippines · Rodrigo Duterte · National Democratic Front · Ocampo

SURI­GAO CITY – An un­de­ter­mined num­ber of sus­pected New Peo­ple’s Army (NPA) rebels at­tacked Tues­day night a hu­man­i­tar­ian mis­sion which had just dis­trib­uted re­lief goods to vic­tims of the earth­quake that hit Suri­gao del Norte.

Lt. Col. Rico Amaro, com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of the 30th In­fantry Bat­tal­ion (30th IB), said the hu­man­i­tar­ian mis­sion, led by 1Lt. Ryan Layug, chief of the unit’s civil-mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions,

and the ABS-CBN Foun­da­tion, were on their way home to Suri­gao City when the sus­pected NPAs fired upon them in Barangay Li­n­ungga­man, San Fran­cisco town, Suri­gao del Norte.

No ca­su­alty was re­ported. “Mabuti nalang at walang nasak­tan sa kanila,” Amaro said.

Amaro said the at­tack­ers are be­lieved to be mem­bers of the Front Com­mit­tee 16 of the Com­mu­nist Party of the Philip­pines-NPA North­east­ern Min­danao Re­gional Com­mit­tee (CPPNPA-NEMRC). The CPP-NPA-NEMRC, how­ever, could not be reached for com­ment on Amaro’s al­le­ga­tion that the at­tack was per­pe­trated by the mem­bers of Front Com­mit­tee 16.

The 30th IB com­man­der said the NPA-Front Com­mit­tee 16, through its spokesman “Ka Oto,” an­nounced Mon­day that it was call­ing-off their tac­ti­cal op­er­a­tions ef­fec­tive Feb. 11, 2017 to pave the way for re­lief op­er­a­tions be­ing con­ducted by the gov­ern­ment and other stake­hold­ers.

“I just hope that they will re­li­giously ad­here to their self-de­clared tem­po­rary cease­fire in the ar­eas af­fected by earth­quake,” Amaro said.

As of re­port­ing time, Amaro had al­ready de­ployed two pla­toons of com­bat ma­neu­ver­ing troops for hot pur­suit op­er­a­tions against the at­tack­ers.

Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials im­me­di­ately con­demned the at­tack.

Ma­jor Gen­eral Benjamin R. Madri­gal Jr., com­man­der of the 4th In­fantry Divi­sion, said it’s re­ally dif­fi­cult to trust the NPAs who, de­spite declar­ing a tem­po­rary cease­fire in quake-af­fected ar­eas, launched the at­tack on the hu­man­i­tar­ian mis­sion.

“We con­demn in the strong­est terms pos­si­ble the re­cent ha­rass­ment of the NPA. There is no way we can re­ally trust these ter­ror­ists. They have de­ceived the en­tire na­tion when they fired upon the team that is com­posed of Army and civil­ian vol­un­teers who had just de­liv­ered re­lief goods to the earth­quake-stricken com­mu­ni­ties,” Madri­gal said.

He added that the NPA’s re­cent dec­la­ra­tion of cease­fire in the earth­quake-af­fected area is noth­ing but lie and de­cep­tion.

“While we are in the area help­ing our peo­ple to rise up again af­ter they were badly hit by the re­cent earth­quake, the NPA ter­ror­ists are also busy mak­ing our peo­ple’s lives mis­er­able,” Madri­gal said.

“The NPA at­tack will not de­ter us to con­tinue our ef­forts in help­ing the LGUs to bring back nor­mal sit­u­a­tion in the en­tire prov­ince,” he added.

Army Colonel Franco Neme­sio Ga­cal, 402nd In­fantry Bri­gade com­man­der, said they are right in al­ways re­mind­ing their troops to be vig­i­lant and al­ways be on guard as they per­form their re­lief and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion mis­sion.

“The re­cent in­ci­dent of at­tack on our troops com­ing from re­lief dis­tri­bu­tion mis­sion, to­gether with a benev­o­lent NGO, re­flects the du­plic­ity of the NPA un­wor­thy of their own dec­la­ra­tion to stop any at­tacks on the sol­diers on mercy and com­pas­sion mis­sion,” Ga­cal said.

“The Philip­pine Army will not al­low this re­cent act of treach­ery on the part of the NPA to cause the de­pri­va­tion of ba­sic needs for our peo­ple.

“We will con­tinue to bring help al­le­vi­ate the suf­fer­ings of our peo­ple who are vic­tims of the earth­quake,” he added.

Don’t send gov’t forces

Mean­while, two pris­on­ers of war (POWs) of the NPA pleaded to the Armed Forces of the Philip­pines (AFP) and Pres­i­dent Duterte not to send gov­ern­ment se­cu­rity forces to res­cue them amid the re­vived ten­sion be­tween the com­mu­nist group and the mil­i­tary.

The NPA’s Re­gional Op­er­a­tions Com­mand of the Far South Min­danao, in a state­ment, said that POWs Sgt. So­laiman Calo­cop and Pfc. Sa­muel Garay of the 39th In­fantry Bri­gade were be­ing treated well by the Mt. Alip Sub-Re­gional Op­er­a­tions Com­mand. The Na­tional Demo­cratic Front (NDFP) at­tached au­dio mes­sages to the state­ment.

The two POWs re­port­edly asked for re­duced AFP op­er­a­tions and pleaded that no res­cue op­er­a­tion be launched to res­cue them.

In sep­a­rate au­dio mes­sages, Calo­cop and Garay both as­sured their re­spec­tive fam­i­lies that they are be­ing treated well by the NPA cus­to­dial unit.

Calo­cop, par­tic­u­larly, noted how the NPAs re­spect his re­li­gion. (With re­ports from Cam­cer Or­doñex Imam and Yas D. Ocampo)

 ??  ?? RE­SILIENCE – These boys pull a mo­tor­bike up an in­cline cre­ated by the col­lapse of the Anao-aon Bridge in San Fran­cisco, Suri­gao del Norte as other res­i­dents take a wooden stair­way in the af­ter­math of a 6.5-mag­ni­tude earth­quake that dev­as­tated the area...
RE­SILIENCE – These boys pull a mo­tor­bike up an in­cline cre­ated by the col­lapse of the Anao-aon Bridge in San Fran­cisco, Suri­gao del Norte as other res­i­dents take a wooden stair­way in the af­ter­math of a 6.5-mag­ni­tude earth­quake that dev­as­tated the area...

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