Rebels, troops clashed in Davao, civilians use as shield
DAVAOCITY – New People’s Army rebels clashed with government troops on Tuesday in the southern Filipino province of Davao Oriental as security forces continue its offensive against the communist group in the restive region.
The fighting erupted in the village called New Visayas in Lupon town, according to the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command. It also accused the rebel group of hostaging a chapel and civilians, including women and children and using them as shield against pursuing soldiers. Rebel forces also blocked a highway, preventing motorists from passing the village.
“We lament the NPAs conduct of road block disturbing the economic activity of the area and the use of children and women and a chapel as part of their diversionary act against pursuing troops,” said army Major Ezra Balagtey, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command. “These condemnable acts are manifestation of the gross disregard of the NPAs of human rights, especially that of the children and the elderly.”
Balagtey did not say whether the civilians had been safely freed or not, but the clashes broke out after patrolling from the 28thInfantry Battalion ran into a huge group of rebels and a fire fight ensued. There were no immediate reports of casualties from both sides, but soldiers recovered at least 14 backpacks left behind by insurgents.
Rigoberto Sanchez, a rebel spokesman, said NPA forces have successfully defended base areas and guerrilla zones around the region in a series of active defense actions in the onset of President Rodrigo Duterte’s all-out war against them following the collapse of the peace talks.
“The all-out war and all its attendant human rights violations mock the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) grandstanding of advocating peace. The NPA in the region, meanwhile, having gone through the brunt of the monumental failure Oplan Bayanihan, is ready to defend the masses and the victories of the people’s war in the face of the Duterte government’s all-out war under the current Oplan Kapayapaan,” Sanchez said.
“This early, the all-out war against the NPA forcibly ordered by the hawkish generals of the AFP is taking its toll on their foot soldiers in southern Mindanao. Meantime, AFP and PNP troops in southern Mindanao have gone berserk in their fascist attempts to supposedly hit hard the region’s NPA units, all the while victimizing civilians and activists in their wake,” he added.
The rebels have been fighting for many decades now in an effort to establish a communist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)