Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Philippine Army says no soldiers killed in Davao clash

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / September 1, 2009) – The Philippine Army on Tuesday denied reports by communist rebels that four soldiers were killed in an ambush in Davao City in Mindanao.

Leoncio Pitao, leader of the New People’s Army 1st Pulang Bagani Company, said four government soldiers were killed and six more wounded in the rebel attack on Sunday in the village of Dalagdag in Calinan district.

But the Army’s 10th Infantry Division said the fighting only wounded three soldiers and left a still undetermined number of rebels dead or wounded.

“We have no soldiers killed in the clash, but three are wounded in the fighting. We also inflicted casualties on the group of dissident-terrorist leader Leoncio Pitao,” Captain Rosa Maria Cristina Manuel, an army spokeswoman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

“In their haste to disengage with the more superior government troops, the rebels left behind their personal belongings, food items and other supplies as they fled towards northeast direction,” she said.

Pitao said rebel forces also seized a machine gun from the soldiers belonging to the Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion. This was also denied by Manuel.

“This recent NPA military offensive against the newly augmented 69th Infantry Battalion and the 10th Infantry Division fascists is a punitive action for the serious violations to human rights and international humanitarian law perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against civilians in Davao hinterlands and provinces in Southern Mindanao,” said Pitao, who heads the NPA’s 1st Pulang Bagani Company.

He said the NPA continues to inflict heavy casualties on the military, despite the massive deployment of troops and militarization in the provinces.

“That the 10th Infantry Division-Armed Forces of the Philippines troops suffered heavy blows versus the people's army, despite the increasing number of its soldiers, nakedly shows the failure of the counter-revolutionary Oplan Bantay Laya II. It has utterly failed to stem the tide of the growing revolutionary movement in the face of intensive and extensive NPA tactical offensives in the region and elsewhere in the country,” Pitao said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Manuel said the locals are supporting the military operations against the NPA. “Sooner or later, Pitao will be captured and he shall pay for all his crimes against the people. They should surrender peacefully,” she said.

The NPA is the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines which has been waging a secessionist war the past four decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. Peace talks collapsed in 2004 after rebel leaders accused the Arroyo government of reneging on a deal, among others, that will free political detainees and stop extrajudicial killings of activists in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

No comments: