Thursday, December 20, 2018

No Christmas break for soldiers after N. Samar landmine attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 20): No Christmas break for soldiers after N. Samar landmine attack

The Philippine Army has questioned the sincerity of the New People’s Army’s (NPA) declaration of holiday truce following the landmine attack in the capital town of Northern Samar that wounded four soldiers and two civilians on Tuesday.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, the Army’s 43rd Infantry Battalion base in Lope De Vega, Northern Samar, said the actual situation on the ground signified the rebels' lack of intention to observe ceasefire this holiday season.

The NPA detonated landmines in the boundary of Hinatad and Mckinley villages in Catarman town, when soldiers on board a civilian vehicle passed the area Tuesday noon on their way to deliver food supplies for their comrades.

The military have been conducting community support program in the area.

The wounded soldiers were Private Rolly Dizon, Private 1st class Rorey Montopar, Private Joel Lacabe, and Corporal Jose Jerome Ballano. The landmines also injured Sherly Robenacio, 35 and her son Christian, 17, who were passing by the area.

After the landmine blast, the rebels opened fire, triggering a five-minute gun battle. The number of casualty on the enemy side is still unknown.

“This incident shows that communist NPA terrorists are not sincere of their offered unilateral truce this Christmas season because their plan is in contrast with what is happening,” the military said.

“The Philippine Army calls the attention of the people to condemn the barbaric act done by the communist NPA terrorists particularly in using anti-personnel mines and other terroristic atrocities actions in Northern Samar,” the statement added.

The recent attack, according to the military, is a clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law and Comprehensive Agreement for Respect on Human Rights and International Law and had affected the peace effort of the government, particularly in attaining long-lasting peace and development.

Lt. Col. Apollo Herrera, commander of the 43rd IB, said their soldiers will not observe Christmas break to ensure the safety of residents and to brace for other possible attacks by the guerrillas from the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“The unit will plan different and massive tactical operations, and will file both human rights violation and criminal cases against the terrorists,” he added in a statement.

Communist rebels declared a ceasefire for the Christmas and New Year holidays, but Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government will not be fooled by this truce.

The ceasefire will give rebels freedom to regroup and refurbish and be more prepared to fight again after the ceasefire, Lorenzana said.

The communist rebels have been battling government forces for 50 years. The communist rebellion in the Philippines is one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies.

Remote communities of Samar Island have remained among the rebels’ strongholds in the country.

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