NPA vows to avenge slain comrades in Sorsogon

Agence France-Presse
The communist party confirms that among those killed was their spokesperson in Bicol, Ka Greg Bañares

RECOVERED. The military recovered five M-16 rifles, two M-203 grenade launchers and improvised explosive devices from the NPA operatives after the encounter at Brgy. Upper Calmayong, Juban, Sorsogon on July 4, 2013. Photo from PAO-AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Communist insurgents on Saturday, July 6, vowed revenge after Philippine soldiers killed their regional spokesman along with 7 other rebels in the latest operation against the militants since the collapse of talks to end one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies.

READ: 8 NPA Rebels killed in Sorsogon

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) confirmed that one of the 8 rebels killed in the clash in Juban, Sorsogon, on July 4 was Frankie Joe Soriano alias Ka Greg Bañares, guerrilla spokesman for the rebel-infested Bicol peninsula.

Earlier, the military announced that a ranking leader of the communist movement by the name of Arnel Estiller alias Ka Ariston, reportedly the secretary of Larangan 2 of the Komited Probinsiya in Sorsogon, were among those killed in the encounter. 

READ: Ranking NPA leader among those killed in Sorsogon 

But the list of casualties released by the CPP on Saturday does not include Estiller. Other members of Bañares’ information group and their security detail were killed in the incident, the rebels said in a statement sent to news agencies.

Part of the statement said: “The CPP and all revolutionary forces vow to exact justice and punish the perpetrators of this massacre. It calls on all units of the NPA to carry out more tactical offensives to defend the people, particularly the peasant masses in Sorsogon and the Bicol region, who are being subjected to more severe violations of human rights as the AFP intensifies its Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression.”

Captured unarmed?

The CPP statement, however, said Bañares and two of his aides were killed after being captured unarmed.

Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala denied the allegation, calling it an attempt to discredit the government forces.

“They were all armed and they fought back. There was a 35 minute exchange of fire,” he said.

While the military would have preferred capturing Bañares, his death would still be a blow to the guerrillas whose ranks have fallen to about 4,000 fighters, down from a peak of roughly 26,000 in the 1980s, Zagala said.

“He was influential in their propaganda. He was a key in their recruitment of those with legitimate problems into the war of the CPP against the government.”

Bañares had been one of the more visible guerrilla figures, frequently issuing statements and even posting on YouTube.

The CPP and the NPA have been fighting successive governments for 44 years, in a rebellion that has claimed at least 30,000 lives.

President Benigno Aquino III hoped to end the rebellion before his 6-year term expires in 2016, but the government said in April that peace talks had collapsed due to rebel demands, such as for the release of captured comrades.

In recent months, the communist rebels have launched more assaults, often targeting unarmed soldiers, police, and civilians. –

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