DAVAO CITY – Four government soldiers were killed in separate attacks by communist rebel group New People’s Army in southern Philippines, a spokesman said Monday.
Rigoberto Sanchez said the weekend attacks killed Sergeant Cerilo Galigaw and another unnamed soldier in the village of Caningag in Davao Oriental’s Caraga town. Both soldiers were intelligence operatives who engaged rebels in a firefight to evade capture. Their pistols and cell phones were also seized by rebels, according to Sanchez.
“Sergeant Galigaw’s mission order confirmed his assignment under the Philippine Army’s Military Intelligence Battalion as an agent operating in Regions 10, 11, 12 and 13. The other operative did not have any identification with him,” Sanchez said. “Text messages in Sergeant Galigaw’s cell phone revealed he was on his way to gather tactical information regarding the NPA’s most recent Prisoner of War Alfredo Basabica, Jr., who was arrested in Cateel town last July 11.”
He said the soldiers were intercepted in the village where NPA rebels were meeting with civilians who accused the military of recruiting locals to work as spies for the 67th Infantry Battalion.
Sanchez said 2 Special Forces soldiers were also killed and 9 others injured in rebel attack in Kitubo village in the town of Kitaotao in Bukidnon province. He branded the soldiers’ unit – 2nd Special Forces Company – as “notorious for terrorizing civilians in Kitaotao, especially the Lumad families in the village of White Culaman who were forced to evacuate in 2015 and were never able to return to their farms and communities.”
He also accused the military of violating rights of civilians in the region and criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s prolonged martial law in Mindanao. “The railroaded extension of martial law in Mindanao will undoubtedly embolden the Armed Forces’ impunity to commit more serious human rights violations against the masses. Already, Duterte is setting the stage for an all-out attack against revolutionary forces, which, in Armed Forces’ parlance is every farmer, Lumad and child in the countryside.”
“On the other hand, it is sure to also intensify the Filipino people’s sentiment against the Duterte regime, particularly the Moro and Lumad people who are bearing the brunt of the state forces’ fascism. Five more months of martial law will spell out intensified armed and legal resistance from the Filipino people,” Sanchez said.
The rebels have been fighting for decades now for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. Peace talks between the rebels and government stalled after Duterte backed out from the negotiations due to continued attacks by NPA forces on military and police targets in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)
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