NORTH COTABATO – Communist insurgents killed 8 army soldiers in fierce clashes in southern Philippines, a rebel spokesman said Monday.
The weekend fighting in North Cotabato’s Makilala town coincided with the ongoing peace talks between government and communist rebels, according to Rigoberto Sanchez, a spokesman for the New People’s Army.
He said soldiers from the 39th Infantry Battalion attacked rebel positions in the town’s hinterlands, sparking a running gunbattle that killed 8 government soldiers in the village of Biangan. One rebel was also killed.
Sanchez accused the army of violating the government cease-fire with rebels. The NPA denounced the military attack and calling it a “sinister combat operation.”
He said rebel forces tried to evade the army soldiers, but the infantrymen pursued the NPA fighters and eventually engaged the insurgents in fighting that lasted at least 12 hours.
It was not immediately known how the cease-fire violation would affect the peace talks, but Sanchez said: “The Duterte government must know by now that it is the bullish insincerity of its armed forces to continue its counter-insurgency campaign that is the biggest impediment in the quest for just and lasting peace.”
“The war dogs of the 39th Infantry Battalion and the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines cannot wash its hands clean of this flagrant violation of their own ceasefire,” he added.
Sanchez said the army battalion also mobilized armed militias to attack the NPA in North Cotabato.
“Since August last year it continued to mobilize its troops and paramilitaries in various forms of combat operations such as intelligence gathering, combat and psychological warfare in far-flung areas that resulted in harassments; extra-judicial killings of civilians Rita and Norberto Gascon on September 13 in Arakan town and Rolan Malignan on November 22 and the enforced evacuation of several families in Magpet town on December 6,” he said.
Sanchez said the cease-fire (agreement) in the province only existed because the NPA was consciously maneuvering its forces in order to avoid armed skirmish in the face of unrelenting military and police combat operations.
“The NPA consistently demonstrated its commitment the negotiations while the AFP and the PNP have continued to make a mockery of the peace process,” he said.
There was no immediate statement from the Philippine Army and government panel negotiating peace with the rebels, who are fighting for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)