Friday, December 17, 2010

CPP: Ambush in Samar legitimate act of war

A pre-Christmas ceasefire attack by New People's Army insurgents that killed at least 10 soldiers and a boy in Samar last Tuesday was done in self-defense, the Communist Party of the Philippines has insisted.

"As far as the CPP, NPA, NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) and revolutionary forces are concerned, the Samar ambush… should not in any way affect the progress of the peace negotiations. It was a legitimate act of war, carried-out in self-defense in response to an active enemy offensive operation," the CPP said in astatement posted on its website Friday afternoon.

The CPP also said there was no violation of any truce in Tuesday's attack, even as it reiterated the NPA will observe the ongoing ceasefire.

Last Tuesday, the NPA ambushed members of the Army's 803rd Brigade in Las Navas in Northern Samar.

NPA fighters also seized at least 10 high-powered firearms during the ambush, the CPP said.

The government peace panel voiced dismay over the incident and called on the CPP-NPA-NDFP to respect the peace process.

Three days after the ambush, the government called on the CPP-NPA to honor the traditional Yuletide ceasefire both camps have declared.

Presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles said the government was“disheartened" by the ambush that occurred two days before the start of the truce on Dec. 16.

Deles said that while the government is committed to observing the ceasefire and pushing through with the peace talks, it wants the CPP and its fronts, the NPA and the NDFP, to “demonstrate [their] firm commitment and ability to uphold the conditions of the ceasefire."

But the CPP insisted the soldiers were on an offensive operation at the time they were ambushed.

"They dispatched their troops to scour the area and conduct offensive military operations based on a report they received about the presence of an NPA unit in the area, knowing full well that the area is an NPA operational base," it said.

It added the 803rd Brigade deployed troops in the area "precisely to give battle to the NPA," but the NPA was monitoring the movements of the offensive enemy forces and engage them in gun battle.

"The NPA ambush was carried out according to international rules of war. The NPA unit legitimately and responsibly employed command-detonated explosives, as opposed to pressure-triggered land mines, to subjugate the AFP unit, in consonance with the Ottawa Treaty and other international treaties concerning the conduct of war," it added.

Because of this, it said "there was neither treachery nor a violation of the 19-day ceasefire."

"The CPP, NPA, NDFP and all revolutionary forces fully support the peace negotiations and faithfully abide by their declarations and commitments, including their December 16 to January 3 ceasefire declaration, simultaneous with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ceasefire," it added.

On the other hand, the CPP branded as hypocritical Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr. for claiming that the attack was a treachery.

It said it was the AFP that had treacherous intent "in carrying out offensive operations against the NPA and the revolutionary mass base in the area just two days before the start of the simultaneous ceasefire."

Deles at soldiers' wake

Meanwhile, presidential peace process adviser Teresita Deles visited Friday the wakes of the slain soldiers in Samar.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) website said she also offered assistance to the bereaved families of the victims.

With her were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo David Jr., and chief government negotiator Alexander Padilla.

The party visited the soldiers’ wake at 803rd IB Headquarters in Camp Sumuroy in Catarman.

They were also scheduled to visit the two wounded soldiers at the Northern Samar General Hospital.

"Communist rebels detonated land mines in Barangay Sta. Fe, and attacked the 12 soldiers supposedly returning to their base in observance of the 19-day holiday ceasefire," the OPAPP said.

It added a nine-year old boy was also killed in the crossfire. — LBG, GMANews.TV

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