The province’s task force to end the local communist armed conflict has denounced the attacks carried out by the New People’s Army (NPA) against government troops in two municipalities in the midst of the current pandemic.
In a statement issued Monday, the Palawan Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF ELCAC) said the NPA attacks disregarded the welfare of the people especially the frontliners against the coronavirus disease.
The ambush was carried out by the NPA’s so-called Bienvenido Vallever Command (BVC) against the 2nd Palawan Provincial Mobile Force Compay (2nd PPMFC) on May 20 in Barangay New Agutaya, San Vicente, and on May 28 against the CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) in Brgy. Bunog, Rizal.
The military said the troops were providing assistance to frontliners when they were attacked.
“Those ‘ambuscades’ against the police and military personnel are part of the CTG’s (communist terrorist groups) operational strategy and doctrine to sow terror to overthrow the government through armed means,” the PTF ELCAC’s statement said.
It denied the NPA’s accusation of widespread starvation and dissatisfaction among Palaweños during the quarantine period.
“It is only geared to arouse ill feelings and animosity to the government and disunity among the people. The truth is that the provincial government and other government agencies are working hand-in-hand to provide or extend ‘ayuda’ to every Palaweño,” the statement said.
On May 20, a member of the provincial police, identified as Patrolman Jayson Javarez Catanduanes, was wounded following a reported NPA ambush.
The attack, however, was denied by the NPA.
On May 28, civilian Jefferson Abella was killed when the NPA attacked the CAA that was deployed to provide security assistance to the provincial government’s Mantayob Water System Project. The rebels in Palawan claimed responsibility for the attack, stating it was directed to the 18th Special Forces Company of the Philippine Army.
“The PTF ELCAC condemns this vile attack of the CTGs despite the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. This attack is atrocious, illegal, and inhuman,” the statement said.
NPA’s BVC sympathizes with Abella’s family
In a statement sent Tuesday to Palawan News, the BVC through its spokesperson Salvador Luminoso expressed condolences to the Abella family.
“Ipinapaabot ng Bienvenido Vallever Command ang marudbdob na pakikidalamhati sa mga magulang, kaanak at kaibigan ni Jefferson Abella. Alam ng NPA Palawan na wala ni anumang salita o paliwanag ang maaaring makapagpabalik sa buhay ng kanilang nasawing kaanak,” Luminoso said.
Luminoso also claimed that the government water facility in Bunog is being used as a camp of military troops.
“Maiiwasan sana ang pagkadamay ng mga sibilyan sa labanan kung sumusunod ang AFP-WesCom sa Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarin Law (CARHRHIL) at Geneva Protocol hinggil sa Batas ng Digma na malinaw na nakasaad. Hindi dapat gaming kampo ang mga sibilyang entidad at mga pampublikong pasilidad na ginagamit ng mga sibilyan,” he said.
“Hindi lingid sa kaalaman ng BVC na ginagawang outpost ng 18th SFC, 4th MBLT at CAFGU-CAA ang baranggay hall ng Bunog, malalakas ang loob na mag-inuman at mambastos ng mga sibilyan, takutin ang mga katutubo na papatayin sila sa panahong maabutan sila ng alanganin sa gubat,” he added.
He also denied that the firefight lasted for around five minutes.
Luminoso said that the target of the operation was only the government troops and not the civilians.
“Naninindigan ang BVC na mananatiling lehitimong target ng mga aksyong militar ang mga detachment at kampo ng Marines, CAFGU-CAA at sundalo, lalo na yaong mga jump off point para sa Focused Military Operations ng JTF-Peacock. Mananatili ring target para sa mga operasyong pamamarusa ng BVC ang mga RCSP Teams na nanlilinlang sa mga katutubo at magsasaka sa probinsya,” Luminoso said.