9 killed, scores hurt in ComVal gun battle (Philippines)

BUTUAN CITY - Five communist guerrillas and four soldiers were killed and an undetermined number of other rebels were reportedly seriously wounded when a gunbattle erupted between government forces and the New People's Army (NPA) in a mountainous and forested area in Barangay Casoon, Monkayo town, Compostela Valley (ComVal) province, sketchy reports reaching this city said yesterday.


Field reports said troopers seized several anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, explosive devices, a two-way handheld radio transceiver, foodstuff, assorted medicines, personal belongings and anti-government documents.

They said troops of the "Alpha" Company of the 28th Infantry Battalion (IB) were conducting patrol and combat operation when they chanced upon about 30 heavily armed guerrillas and engaged them in a firefight.

The gun battle lasted for almost an hour, reports added.
The identities of the slain rebels and soldiers remain unknown as of press time.
The slain soldiers were taken to Camp Panacan Hospital, in Panacan, Davao City.

Lt. Col. Beinvinido Datuin Jr., ground commander of the 28th IB, led his troops in pursuing the fleeing rebels, who reportedly belong to Front Committee 20 of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).

"The slain rebels and their unaccounted number of seriously wounded comrades-in-arms were dragged along towards the provincial boundary of Agusan del Sur and ComVal province," another Army officer who led the pursuit operation in the area said.

He added that with the recovery of improvised landmines and explosive devices, the operating troops prevented another attempt by the communist insurgents to inflict casualties on government forces.

He said that the use of landmines is a grave violation of the Geneva Convention and Articles of War.

Malacañang called on the citizenry yesterday to support the efforts of the government in crushing the 37-year-old communist insurgency for the sake of the country's peace, stability and progress.

Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio R. Bunye Jr. said that the terror wrought by the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA (CPP-NPA) can no longer be ignored and that everyone must act against it.

"The overall peace and stability of the country is indispensable for economic takeoff and we call on all sectors to support the government and the Armed Forces in this campaign," Bunye said in a statement.

Bunye's statement came two days after President Arroyo ordered the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release R1 billion to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to finance their operations against the CPP-NPA.

The President also ordered the AFP to get rid of the insurgents, particularly those operating in Luzon, in two years time.

Mrs. Arroyo issued the orders during the joint Cabinet and Regional Development Council (RDC) meeting in Cauayan, Isabela province, on Friday.

The President virtually declared an "all-out war" against the insurgents with her orders. Her administration tagged the NPAs as "terrorists". (Anthony Giron)


The CPP laughed off yesterday the desire of President Arroyo to finish off communist insurgency in two years, saying the R1 billion that the Chief Executive had allocated to lick insurgency problems should have only been utilized for social services and other development programs for the poor.

CPP spokesperson Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal explained that the allocation of the huge sum to the counter-insurgency campaign is tantamount to depriving again the people of government's attention on their concerns as the R1 billion could be enough to feed and provide the basic needs of a number of poor families in the country.

"While Arroyo is quick to order an additional R1 billion to the military's R5-billion modernization program, she is extremely slow and reluctant in allocating enough to meet medical, education, housing, and other services urgently needed by the people," said Rosal in a statement posted on the rebel's website philippinerevolution.org.

"Arroyo obviously does not know that the people wage revolution and the NPA grows because of unresolved social ills, worsening poverty and backwardness and intensifying repression," he added. (Aaron Recuenco)


A mere political harassment.

This was the reaction of the CPP to the government's plan to file criminal charges against its founder Jose Maria Sison before a court in the Netherlands in connection with the death of two former rebel commanders.

Rosal said there is not even an iota of material evidence that could link Sison to the assassination of former NPA commanders Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara.

He explained that Kintanar and Tabara have long been on the hit list of the NPA following their decision to bolt from the mainstream communist movement and organize their own armed group.

"The separate orders to arrest, put on trial and punish Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara in 2003 and 2005 were issued and carried out by responsible organs of the CPP-NPA and the people's revolutionary government," said Rosal.

"Professor Sison has nothing to do with these cases... His current task is to serve as senior political consultant of the National Democratic Front in its negotiations with the Philippine government," he added.

Rosal branded the re-filing of the charge as a mere propaganda and a desperate attempt to harass the revolutionary movement in the country. (Aaron Recuenco)

Von: 19.6.2006 By MIKE U. CRISMUNDO, www.tempo.com.ph

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