02 January 2010

8th ID offensives in Basey prove worthlessness of AFP ceasefire declaration

Press Release
Jan. 2, 2010

Fr. Santiago Salas, Spokesperson
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Eastern Visayas

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today said that continuing offensive operations by the 8th Infantry Division in Basey, Western Samar proved the worthlessness of the short-term unilateral ceasefire declared by the Arroyo government. “A unilateral ceasefire declaration is only as good as the word of its proponent, and meant for goodwill and respect,” said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDF-EV spokesperson. “But the 8th ID offensives in Basey belie the Arroyo government unilateral ceasefire from Dec. 24-26 and Dec. 31-Jan. 1. This is well-exposed by the affected civilians themselves who complained to the media, by the local government which had to do relief operations in the midst of the so-called ceasefire, and by the 8th ID propagandists who publicly rejoiced that these innocent civilians deserve their plight for being 'NPA supporters'.”

Fr. Salas said the peasants have been approaching the media over the 8th ID's offensive operations in some interior barangays in Basey since November, as well as the aerial bombardment of Brgy. Bagti on Dec. 23, forcing the peasants there to flee. “Afterwards, about 86 families from Brgy. Bagti were unable to return out of fear of 14th IB troops who continued their offensive operations despite the government ceasefire, in the guise of “protecting” civilians. Moreover, the affected families are demanding compensation amounting to P2.15 million over their dislocation and the damages to their property, especially their rice harvests that were looted or burned by the 14th IB troops.”

The NDF-EV spokesperson expressed support for the affected civilians and urged them to continue their struggle for justice. “Civilians in the midst of armed conflicts are protected by international humanitarian law, and this is clearly highlighted by the NDFP-GRP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. The 8th ID propaganda that alleged NPA supporters deserve to be persecuted even though they are civilians is purely fascist, ignorant, malicious and illegitimate. Because they are making insignificant military advances in Basey and the rest of the region, the 8th ID continues to turn its wrath on civilians to bolster its Oplan Bantay Laya campaign. The said Oplan Bantay Laya is doomed to abject failure. Having sown many rights violations, the 8th ID will be reaping the whirlwinds of guerrilla offensives and people's protests in the new year.”#

NPA confirms successful offensive in Calbiga, slams 8th ID for fake surrender

Press Release
Jan. 2, 2010

Ka Vicente Magbuhat, Spokesperson
Armulfo Ortiz Command
New People's Army-Western Samar

The New People's Army in Western Samar confirmed that it carried out a successful offensive in Calbiga last Dec. 17. “Red fighters under the Jovito Ragay Command raided a unit of the 8th Infantry Division's engineering battalion in Brgy. Binanggaran, Calbiga,” said Ka Vicente Magbuhat, spokesperson of the Arnulfo Ortiz Command. “Two enemy soldiers were killed in action, and two high-powered rifles were confiscated by the NPA, which did not suffer any casualty. The 8th ID troopers were on a psychological warfare operation in the guise of a school building project.”

The NPA-Western Samar spokesperson also dismissed the 8th ID's assertion that the guerrilla offensive violated international humanitarian law. “Only chaplains and medics are accorded protection as non-combatants under international humanitarian law; military elements in engineering and construction are not. The so-called engineering battalion elements pretending to be on a humanitarian project were in fact heavily armed and combat-ready, as can be seen from the weapons confiscated from them. The 8th ID chief, Gen. Arthur Tabaquero, has also acknowledged in previous media interviews that their participation in construction projects such as roads and other infrastructure were in furtherance of military objectives. That is, the roads will easily bring in soldiers, while other projects are meant to deceive the people, especially in light of the military's bloodstained human rights record.”

Ka Vicente Magbuhat also said that while the NPA continues to make gains in its offensives, the 8th ID is becoming desperate to depict the NPA as on the verge of losing to Oplan Bantay Laya. “The 8th ID recently announced the surrender of an element of the Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan (RHB), which is misrepresented as linked to the NPA. That is not true, the RHB is an armed group under military supervision through the 52nd IB, which has a camp in Brgy. Pequit in Paranas town. The RHB's role under the military is to carry out extortions and highway robberies, introducing themselves as the NPA to destroy the reputation of the NPA. The so-called surrenderee, Alger Abalos alias “Freddy”, allegedly gave up an M16 rifle and more than 200 bullets. But the peasants report to the NPA that Abalos had often been seen before, joining the CAFGU paramilitaries almost everyday in patrolling Brgy. Pequit and other nearby villages. So the peasants in Paranas are now laughing at the military, saying that in the desperation to come out with an NPA surrenderee, the military is even surrendering its own shadow.”#