Philippine Communist Rebels Launched Attack as Warning to Duterte: NPA Official

Froilan Gallardo
Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
171204-rebels-620.jpg A female guerrilla from the communist New People’s Army (NPA) commands a fighting unit in a camp on Mindanao island in the southern Philippines, November 2015.
Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews

Philippine communist rebels were sending a response to new threats from the government, when they raided a remote southern town and wounded four police officers in a weekend attack, a guerrilla spokesman said Monday.

The attack occurred days after President Rodrigo Duterte called off talks and threatened to officially put the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), on a terror watch list.

“The attack is a warning to the police and military that the NPA does not fear the threats of all-out war and martial law by the Duterte regime,” Nicholas Marino, a local spokesman for the rebels, told BenarNews.

About 100 NPA rebels set up road blocks along the main highway and took over the town of Binuangan, in Misamis Oriental province on southern Mindanao island, before dawn Sunday.

They fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the town’s police station, injuring four, including municipal police chief Senior Inspector Dante Hallazago.

“The rebels failed in their attack on the police station and failed to get the firearms of the policemen, which was their target,” said Superintendent Lemuel Gonda, regional police spokesman. The guerrillas fled after a two-hour battle with police.

Bus passenger Kimbo Velez said he saw three rebels armed with AK-47 rifles stop their bus and tell the driver to turn around. The gunmen also commandeered two trucks as get-away vehicles.

“One of the armed men who carried a flashlight identified himself to us as an NPA rebel and warned our driver not to proceed,” Velez said, adding that the driver and passengers were not harmed.

‘Futility of their distorted ideology’

On Monday, the military said at least 14 NPA rebels had surrendered to troops in southern Agusan del Sur province and given up a cache of firearms. It said the surrender followed setbacks the group had suffered in recent weeks that decimated its ranks.

“We are hopeful that more of them will realize the futility of their distorted ideology,” said Lt. Col. Rommel Pagan, local army chief, adding that the military was “committed to prevent the NPA terrorists’ criminal activities against our people and the communities.”

Last week, 15 NPA guerrillas were killed in a clash with troops and police outside Manila, including a guerrilla leader and a young woman who was later identified as a university activist who joined the rebel ranks.

The NPA has been waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies since 1969. Thousands of combatants and civilians have died in the fighting, which has also stunted growth prospects especially in the countryside.

The U.S. government long ago placed the CPP-NPA, and its self-exiled founder, Jose Maria Sison, on its terror watch list, making it difficult for the group to receive financial contributions that fund its insurgency.

The group traditionally steps up attacks days before its Dec. 26 anniversary.

Duterte called off the talks in response to a recent NPA attack that left two civilians dead, including a baby girl. Three officers and six civilians were wounded in that clash.

Jeoffrey Maitem in Cotabato City, Philippines, contributed to this report.


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