Tuesday, October 05, 2010

NPA rebels attack troops in humanitarian projects in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 5, 2010) – Communist rebels attacked Tuesday a group of government soldiers in Davao City in the southern Philippines, the New People’s Army said.

It said the attack was part of an offensive against troops deployed in Paquibato District, a known stronghold of NPA rebels. The attack occurred at around 6 a.m., but it was not immediately known whether any of the soldiers were killed or wounded.

Army officials said rebels harassed troops involved in humanitarian works in Paquibato District. “The rebels have been harassing us, but we will still continue our peace and development projects and the people are on our side,” said Lieutenant Medel Aguilar, a spokesman for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division based in Davao City.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a spokesman for the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command, said the attack was carried out as a punishment against the Army’s 1003rd Infantry Brigade whose soldiers have been deployed in Paquibato to ensure the unhampered exploration of mining firms.

Sanchez said rebel forces attacked troops in two villages - Paquibato Proper and Paradise Embac – and he also claimed responsibility for an earlier attack against army soldiers in Fatima village also in Paquibato District.

He said rebels launched 10 attacks against government troops in Paquibato since July.

But Aguilar said the soldiers were working on peace and development projects in Paquibato. He accused the rebels of sabotaging humanitarian projects in Paquibato.

Sanchez said the current and unrelenting military combat operations are part of the 10th Infantry Division’s “peace and development buzzword designed to sow terror among the communities, silence the dissenters and pave the way for the entry of corporate mining in Davao City and nearby provinces.”

Paquibato is an area where mining firms wanted to operate and Sanchez said since last year, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau has been processing at least 11 applications to mine in more than 95,000 hectares in the mineral-rich mountain of Davao City, Davao del Norte province and as far as Bukidnon. More than half of these applications are in Paquibato, he said.

He said the Alberto Mining Corporation plans to mine 16,200 hectares in Paquibato and Malabog; another company named Superfield is set to open 6,874 hectares in Lumiad and Mapula, all in Paquibato, and Mambusao Mining also wanted to operate in the 15,660 hectares mountain area in Davao City.

“These corporate encroachments protected by the 10th Infantry Division’s heavy-combat operations have endangered peasant lives and livelihood. It will eventually devastate the environment and plunder our national patrimony,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez also accused the military of staging so-called dialogues with villagers in Paquibato to mask its compulsory meetings where people are subjected to psychological warfare to force them to renounce the revolutionary movement, and organize “Barangay Defense System” that turn civilians into pawns and convenient shields against NPA attacks.

“These AFP operations have resulted to grave crimes against the masses whose rights were violated one after the other with impunity. In less than three months, almost a thousand individuals in Paquibato were victims of state fascism that included the murders of civilians Julius Tamondes and Reynaldo Labrador,” he said, adding, the military’s peace and development mantra is a smokescreen for intense combat operations and violations to international humanitarian law – all at the service of big business.

The NPA is the armed wing of the outlawed Communist party of the Philippines which has been fighting for decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

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