NPA takes 5 soldiers as 'prisoners of war'
MANILA, Philippines – The New People's Army (NPA) carried out 20 armed offensives in the last 5 days against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and has taken 5 soldiers as "prisoners of war" (POWs), the communist armed group said in a statement on Friday, February 3.
"Units and commands of the New People's Army (NPA) have carried out at least 20 military actions across the country over the past five days in response to the clamor of the people to defend their rights and welfare against fully-armed occupation troops of the AFP," said NPA spokesperson Jorge "Ka Oris" Madlos in a statement issued Friday afternoon.
The statement was issued shortly before President Rodrigo Duterte announced the lifting of the government ceasefire with the NPA. (READ: Duterte orders AFP: End ceasefire tonight)
"At least 5 AFP soldiers have been captured and are being treated as POWs. A number of AFP officers and men have been killed and wounded in the armed attacks," Madlos said.
NPA spokesperson Jorge "Ka Oris" Madlos said they were forced to fight back against the military's supposed deployment against their forces and communities on the ground.
Madlos said these "active defense manuevers" were conducted in the areas of Agusan, Surigao, Davao, Bukidnon, Sultan Kudarat, Isabela, Batangas, and Panay.
The NPA called on Duterte to order the military to pull out state forces in more than 500 villages before the termination of its unilateral ceasefire takes effect on February 10.
"If it does so, together with the release of all political prisoners, it may preempt the complete termination of the unilateral ceasefire declaration of the CPP and NPA," said Madlos.
"Otherwise, the NPA has orders to take full initiative and carry-out tactical offensives against the AFP, PNP and all armed entities of the reactionary state," he added.
The military protested NPA's attacks as "excessive," citing a police report that 76 bullets were used to kill 3 soldiers in Bukidnon. Six soldiers have been reported killed since the violence resumed on Sunday.
Madlos said the NPA operations targetted "peace and development teams" or PDTs composed of troops that the military said were deployed to deliver basic services to the communities.
The NPA accused the PDTs of occupying government facilities to conduct counter-insurgency operations. "They also spread the lie that soldiers are bringing relief goods or carrying out relief operations. They make use of so-called "delivery of social services" to forward deploy their troops within the guerrilla zones of the NPA," said Madlos. – Rappler.com