Wednesday, August 23, 2006

NPA Raids Zamboanga Town, Holds 14 People Hostage

IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay (Mindanao Examiner / 23 Aug) Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels raided a small southern Philippine village Wednesday and took at least 14 people hostage for two hours before releasing them unharmed, officials said.

The hostages were freed on a remote village called Buayan in the outskirts of Kabasalan town, according to Freddie Chu, the local mayor. “All 14 hostages are already free. They were not harmed,” he said.

It was unknown why the rebels detained the civilians, who were mostly students and workers at the Baptist Bible Church in the town. But Chu said the gunmen had earlier asked for food. “They only wanted food,” he said.

Pastor Manolo Gorbe, one of the freed hostages, said the rebels arrived on their school and herded them.

“They asked if we had weapons and they also asked for food, medicines and money. We cooked food for them and they held us for more than two hours before releasing us. They did not harm us,” he said.

Gorbe said the rebels also searched a house near the school for weapons, but they found nothing. “They searched for weapons and found nothing and then they ransacked the house,” he said.

He said the rebels fled after releasing him and 13 others. Security forces were sent to the town to pursue the rebels, officials said.

Police also heightened security in the town and put up checkpoints and road blocks and soldiers were patrolling villages.

“We are in heightened alert right now,” police officer Mike Canda, of the local police force, told the Mindanao Examiner.

The province is a known lair of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which broke off peace talks with Manila in 2004 after the United States and the European Union tagged the CPP and the NPA and their political arm the National Democratic Front as foreign terrorist organizations on the Filipino government’s prodding.

Since then, sporadic clashes escalated in the countryside and the rebels said they would only return to the peace talks if the US and Eu removed them from the terror lists.

President Arroyo has ordered the military to crush the NPA and even set aside one billion pesos for the military and police to help fight insurgency.
The rebels branded as pretentious bragging Arroyo's release of additional P1 billion to crush communist insurgency in the country.

"The additional P1 billion allocations to fund President Gloria Arroyo’s pipe dream of crushing the New People’s Army in two years is nothing but a display of fascist braggadocio typical of swaggering generals and dictators. It reveals the depths of Arroyo’s ignorance of the dynamics of revolution and the heights of her counter-revolutionary fantasy, which proves to be a costly yet deadly misadventure," Rubi del Mundo, a spokesman for the NDF in Mindanao, said.

Arroyo also ordered security forces to protect businessmen from NPA extortion and at the same told authorities to investigate and file criminal charges against those who are supporting the rebels. Traders have complained the rebels were extorting "revolutionary" taxes from them and those who refused to pay are threatened with harm.

“Arroyo is committing the same mistakes of past Philippine presidents: raising the ante for a militarist strategy under conditions of extreme poverty, social discontent and political polarization favors the revolutionary movement more than anything else,” said Del Mundo. “Martial Law and recycled presidential proclamations of “all-out-wars” thereafter failed to halt the advance of the revolutionary movement, much less defeat it.”

Del Mundo said the new anti-insurgency funding would only breed more corruption in the military and the police.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police generals are having a heyday under an embattled Arroyo regime whosepolitical survival they almost exclusively determine on a daily basis.
With billions of pesos at their disposal, corruption at the highest level of thereactionary regime and police officers corps shall continue without letup."The NPA is fighting the past three decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. The NPA boasts of more than 10,000 armed regulars, but the military estimates it at around 7,500.

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