Friday, June 14, 2013

AFP disputes NPA claims on ‘air strikes’ in Abra

From the Website of INQUIRER

AFP disputes NPA claims on ‘air strikes’ in Abra

By Frances Mangosing
6:54 pm | Monday, June 10th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday disputed claims by the New People’s Army that the reported military “air strikes” in Abra recently violated human rights. 

“What they failed to say was that these particular operations were legitimate,” Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office, told Monday. 

Zagala clarified that no “air strikes” happened in Abra as the guerrillas claimed. He said the military used “close air support” in the operations. 

“There were five encounters between the AFP and NPA in two days, two on May 30 and three on May 31. The use of close air support is a military option, so we used it,” he said.
He said they sent close air support to Gacab village in Malicbong, Abra on May 31 using MG520 attack helicopter, which delivered two rockets. 

The operation led to the recovery of a firearm, he added. 

“That tool is available to the AFP to combat them (communist rebels). We will not hesitate to use it against them,” Zagala said, adding that because of the close air support, they were able to recover an M16 rifle, confirming the presence of armed men in the village.
Diego Wadagan and Tipon Gil-ayab, NPA spokespersons in Abra and Kalinga respectively, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that they will never participate in localized peace talks.
Wadagan said the government’s counterinsurgency campaign, the Oplan Bayanihan, had resulted in more rights violations in communities where the military was operating.
They claimed that the prospect of forging a peace agreement with the Aquino administration is bleak, citing the government’s failure to implement an initial agreement on respect for human rights. 

“They don’t want to participate in peace talks. Why? What’s your reason? You don’t want to be dismembered? You want to show a united front? Violence is never the answer,” Zagala said. 

He explained that military operations are done for “security and stability” in the area, “because there is a presence of NPA [and the rebels are] disrupting the peace,” he said.”
Zagala also denied the claims of Wadagan that two civilians were wounded in the Abra “air strikes.” 

“We asked Mayor Benido Bacuyag of Malibcong to verify if there were any casualties. There was none. Those casualties must be theirs,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Domingo Tutaan, AFP spokesperson, told reporters that the NPA rebels were releasing “fabricated” information to make it appear that the AFP is violating human rights. 

He also described the NPA allegations as “cover ups” for their extortion activities.


Army-NPA clash in Surigao del Sur leaves 2 soldiers dead

By Frances Mangosing
3:04 pm | Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines – Government troops clashed with communist rebels in Surigao del Sur on Monday killing two soldiers, the military said Tuesday. 

Major Leo Bongosia, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said in a belated report that soldiers from the Army’s 29th Infantry Battalion were conducting combat operations when they encountered New People’s Army rebels in sitio (sub-village) Tibog, San Isidro village, Lianga town at about 2 p.m. Monda
The firefight lasted for about five minutes. 

Bongosia said they received no report on the NPA casualties.
The Army has launched pursuit operations against the fleeing guerrillas, he added.




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