Last 3 February, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the end of the unilateral ceasefire between the government and the New People’s Army.
Discontinuing the ceasefire, which puts peace negotiations in peril, was a result of preemptive attacks by Communist forces against military and industrial installations. This is part of a series of articles charting these incidents leading up to and surrounding the resumption of hostilities.
Bukidnon, Philippines – Wednesday, 1 February 2017, on the same day of the announcement by the New People’s Army (NPA) that it has terminated its unilateral ceasefire with the government communist rebels in Bukidnon province have killed three soldiers and severely damaged heavy equipment belonging to Del Monte, a known food processor.
The attack was announced in a statement released the following day by Ka Allan Juanito, spokesperson of the NPA’s North Central Mindanao Regional Command.
Juanito described that the three soldiers killed were members of the Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD) unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 8th Infantry Battalion. The men died when they attempted to shoot it out with a guerilla unit that stopped their motorcycle in Sitio Kalib, Barangay Kibalabag in Malaybalay City at arounf 5:00 P.M. on Wednesday.
The military has described COPD units as non-combatants, but the rebels maintained that these units infiltrate and carry out intelligence work and psychological operations/warfare in hinterland communities, they are thus considered legitimate targets by the NPA, especially if they encroach upon territories controlled by the rebel group.
In an unrelated incident at around 10:00 P.M. on Wednesday also a team of the NPA’s Mt. Kitanglad Subregional Command had disabled the backhoe and bulldozer of known food processing company, Del Monte. Juanito said that rebels typically set fire to heavy equipment of large corporations they accuse of environmental destruction and displacement of indigenous people and peasant communities.
Also on the same day, rebels under the South Central Bukidnon Sub-regional Command wrecked a dump truck owned by a couple who they accuse of land grabbing and worker exploitation in Barangay Salawagan, Quezon town.
Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) said that all units under his command are now on alert status and are on active posture for possible attacks. As he ordered: “Alert troops for possible attacks. Protect the communities from criminal acts of extortion, burning of equipment, abductions, liquidations and other forms of atrocities”.
Its seems like these acts by the NPA rebels are only a taste of things to come as they intensify actions following their termination of the unilateral ceasefire. The president in a heated reply lifted the unilateral ceasefire as well and had told soldiers to prepare for battle and that there will be no peace in this generation. The rebels have irked the president and in retaliation he has ordered that military operations be done against the NPA rebels.