A motorcycle rider drives past an old building in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines where several posters are put up urging the Duterte government to continue peace talks with communist rebels tagged as behind a recent ambush that killed four police forensic experts in Davao del Sur's Bansalan town. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)
DAVAO CITY – Communist rebels on Friday owned up to the deadly ambush of a police team in the southern Philippine province of Davao del Sur and boasted how it carefully planned and carried out the daring attack.
Rigoberto Sanchez, a spokesman for the New People’s Army, said rebel forces from the Mt. Apo Subregional Operations Command also seized four weapons from the slain police members in the village of Sibayan in Bansalan town on March 8.
The team of policemen were heading to the village to respond to a shooting incident when rebels attacked them. Police said those killed were mostly forensic experts.
But Sanchez said the armed policemen were on “offensive operation” against the NPA. “Humiliated in the face of defeat and supremacy of guerrilla tactics, the enemy desperately attempted to twist the facts of the incident to conceal the bare-faced rottenness of the Armed Forces’ counter-insurgency plan,” he said.
He said the police was just covering up for its failed anti-insurgency operation. “Shamefaced by the aftermath of the successful NPA ambush against its troops, the Philippine National Police hierarchy peddled the dubious line and outrageously melodramatic declaration that the PNP unit was a non-tactical police team overwhelmed by a superfluous NPA force which seized all six of its total firearms.”
“It is a vain attempt to cover-up the fact that an armed PNP unit on offensive operation was effectively neutralized by a 14-man NPA unit. Seizing the initiative as a matter of principle of guerrilla warfare, the NPA unit was able to induce the enemy into a well-laid ambush and attack the enemy’s weak force by the NPA’s relative superior force. In subduing the PNP unit, the NPA aims to win a battle of quick decision by demobilizing its moving targets and wiping out the enemy swiftly,” Sanchez said.
He also accused the police and military forces of committing “atrocious” human rights violations and international humanitarian law violations against innocent civilians and members of indigenous tribes suspected either as members or supporters of the NPA in the provinces of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato.
Sanchez, narrating how rebels carried out the ambush, he said: “An NPA platoon was positioned at the mountainside of Barangay Sibayan in order to frustrate military and police operations in the area. Another squad took position nearby. The NPA command was in anticipation of police and military operations to be coordinated by the 39th Infantry Battalion. At 6:15 a.m., heavily armed police personnel aboard two mobile PNP vehicles were dispatched, apparently to reconnoiter and clear the area before deploying its soldiers.”
“The first police vehicle passed by the NPA ambush position site at 6:35 a.m. The NPA squad desisted from striking when it saw civilians riding in motorcycles were in close proximity to the moving PNP vehicle. The second police vehicle passed by subsequently. At 7:10 a.m., the NPA squad, positioned eight meters from the road, proceeded to ambush the passing mobile vehicle. After the initial five-second volley of gunshots, the NPA commander called for the enemy troops to surrender and lay down their arms.”
He continued on saying “the PNP personnel, however, retaliated with numerous return of fire. A wounded police officer jumped off from the vehicle. It took ten minutes of an exchange of fire before the NPA squad succeeded in subduing the PNP unit before cautiously approaching the PNP mobile vehicle to seize two M16 rifles and two 9mm Glock pistols. At 7:25 a.m., the NPA 14-man squad safely withdrew from the ambush site.”
Sanchez said rebels will continue to exact revolutionary justice and wage tactical offensives anywhere andanytime in the countryside and areas under the so-called People’s Democratic Government. “Tempered in the long running guerrilla warfare in the country, the Red fighters will continue to deliver heavy blows against the enemy, seize arms to increase the number of its full-fighting units and advance the level of people’s war,” he said.
Following the ambush, President Rodrigo Duterte also ordered the police and military to run after the rebels. The attack occurred as members of the government panel are holding backchannel talks with the rebels for the resumption of the peace negotiations.
Duterte suspended the peace talks last month after rebels launched a series of deadly attacks in the restive region following government’s failure to release some 400 political detainees – mostly NPA leaders and members arrested and captured in the past by authorities – a promise made by the President during election campaign last year.
The rebels have been fighting for many decades now for the establishment of a communist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)