From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 25): Reds hit Army’s SOMO violation in Bicol
Communist rebels in the Bicol has accused the military of violating its own Suspension of Offensive Military Operation (SOMO).
In a statement from the National Democratic Front-Bicol Information Office, it said that at least three local units of New People’s Army rebels have reported that the Army’s Peace and Development Teams (PDT) continue to operate in the villages of Antolon, Patag and Poloan in Caramoan, Camarines Sur; Barangays Villapaz and Sinagaran in Jovellar town; Mamlad in Pio Duran; and Lumacao in Guinobatan, all in Albay; and Barangays Marinas and Cabiguhan in Gubat town, Manhumlad and Balocawe in Matnog town, in Sorsogon.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ breach of its own ceasefire declaration reveals its hypocrisy characteristic of ‘Oplan Bayanihan’s’ psywar policy,” the NDFP-Bicol said on Christmas day.
The NDF-Bicol added: “While AFP spokespersons smirk through their propagandas and fall flat at representing the military as champions of peace, the rest of its minions go wild in the countrysides committing grave human rights and international humanitarian law offenses.”
The Inquirer email a copy of the rebel statement to Lt. Colonel Domingo Gobway, the spokesman of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) based here in Camp Nakar, for the military reaction on the NDF’s accusation.
“There is no SOMO violation as alleged. After verification, our units on the ground were not conducting combat operations,” Gobway, said in a text message Wednesday evening.
Gobway explained that the PDT teams are just confine in some parts of the village “on a semi-permanent basis just like a typical detachment”.
“They are not there for combat operation but for peace and development,” he said.
In a report, AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan said the NPA rebels attacked military detachments in Casiguran and Gubat towns on Dec 22.
He said the communist guerillas fired at the detachments and withdrew. The incident reported no casualties.
The rebels in Bicol insisted that the PDT teams conduct “combat, psywar, and intelligence operations and are therefore poised at launching attacks and poisoning the minds of the people”.
The NDF-Bicol echoed the demand of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for the military “to stand down and pull out their troops from territories of the People’s Democratic Government”.
The rebel warned that the government forces continue to conduct combat operation during the supposed SOMO period, the NPA rebels will be force to act in self-defense and fight back.
In the past Yuletide ceasefires, both armed protagonists had resorted to propaganda wars by accusing each other of truce violations.
On Dec. 20, President Benigno Aquino approved the SOMO recommendation from the military and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and declared a 26-day ceasefire with communist rebels starting at midnight of December 20 and lasting until January 15, 2014.
On Dec. 18, the CPP declared that the NPA rebels would observe a unilateral ceasefire from December 24 to 26 and again from December 31 to January 2.
The CPP said the truce was in keeping with the Filipino people’s traditional observance of Christmas and to pave the way for the party’s 45th anniversary celebration Thursday (Dec. 26).
According to the CCP, the anniversary celebrations which will be attended by allies and sympathizers of the rebel movement will be held in areas which they claimed as “under the jurisdiction and authority of the organs of the people’s democratic government”.
The party said the assemblies would also serve as an opportunity to generate and collect funds and other material support for rehabilitation efforts in the Yolanda areas.
The NPA, the CPP’s armed wing, has been waging Maoist-inspired protracted war against the government for the past 44 years, considered as the world’s longest-running communist rebellion.
In its report on December 22, the Mindanao Examiner said that the three-day youth camp dubbed as “Kabataan, Kaakibat sa Kapayapaan at Pag-unlad ng Ungkaya Pukan,” was the brainchild and initiated by the 18th Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Paolo Perez in coordination with stakeholders from non-governmental organizations Nagdilaab Foundation Incorporation; Pinay Kilos, Non-Violent Peace Force, among others, including the local government. The Non-Violent Peace Force is an active partner of Moro NGO’s in Mindanao for quite sometimes.
The camp is part of the military peace-making efforts in support to the peace negotiation between the GPH and the MILF was participated in by 12 villages in Ungkaya Pukan town.
The leadership camp gave the youth challenging activities as well as lectures given by professional speakers covering the lectures on types and values of a leader, global warming, child rights and other subjects, the report by Mindanao Examiner further said.
“The activity became an eye opener to the youth making them realize that they can be in one place with the other youth from the different barangays to discuss matters pertaining peace and development of their municipality.”
“It also became a show window for the youth not only to show their talents but also an opportunity to acquire knowledge necessary for them to improve their leadership skills as future leaders in their barangay. As expressed by most of the participants, it was an unforgettable experience they’ve gained and having a second batch would surely be an exciting event. The parents were also very amazed on how the children worked harmoniously with each other in the camp,” organizers said.