By Vince Angelo C. Ferreras
DEFENSE SECRETARY Delfin N. Lorenzana said there is a possibility that the military was infiltrated by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Agusan del Sur, which led to the attack and hostage-taking of two Army soldiers and 12 members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) on Wednesday.
He said the military detachment might have “relaxed” or an NPA member pretended to be an ally.
“We are still investigating kung ano talaga nangyari kasi nga hostage sila lahat e, ibig sabihin walang fire-fight, walang labanan so mukhang nabigla sila (what really happened because they were taken hostage, which means there was no fire-fight, there was no fight so it seems they were taken by surprise),” said Mr. Lorenzana in a press conference on Thursday, Dec. 20.
A report said around 50 NPA members attacked the New Tubigon Patrol Base in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur at around 3 a.m. last Dec. 19.
The Defense chief also said that they are not disregarding the possibility that the communist rebels aim to use the hostages as leverage to demand for a stop in military operations in the area.
“But we will not stop. The soldiers know we are at war with these people. Being held hostage is part of the job of these people,” he said.
Mr. Lorenzana said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), which is now headed by former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., will help in negotiating for the release of the soldiers.
“I think the OPAPP, Gen. Galvez will also be on top of this also,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) congratulated its armed wing, the NPA, for its “successful” attack in Agusan del Sur.
“The Communist Party of the Philippines applauds the successful tactical offensives mounted by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Agusan del Sur, Samar, Sorsogon and elsewhere over the past two days. The NPA tactical offensives are resounding blows against the Duterte regime’s martial law rule in Mindanao and across the country,” said CPP in a statement on Thursday.
It added, “The tactical offensives of the NPA displays the superiority of the NPA in terms of support of the people and mastery in guerrilla warfare. It also manifests demoralization among the AFP and paramilitary forces who are being used as canon fodder in defense of a rotten system and corruption of their superiors. We urge all enemy foot soldiers to surrender to the NPA.”
The CPP said they will only release the soldiers if the AFP will stop its offenses.
“All prisoners-of-war who were captured after surrendering during the raid in Agusan del Sur are being treated leniently. They will be released soonest so long as the AFP relents in their offensive in order to pave the way for their orderly and safe release and give them the opportunity to be with their families this Christmas. We urge third party facilitators to coordinate and cooperate with the local NPA command,” the statement read.
The CPP-NPA will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Dec. 26. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras