Editorial, Central Mindanao Newswatch, April 2-8, 2009 issue

Whoever they are, civilians shouldn’t be dragged to the problem of insurgency. That is not just a political right, but a basic human right.

The fact that three civilians were killed in the recent attack of the New People’s Army in a Zamboanguita militia post gives this gruesome war an even more gory look.

And we can say this to the two parties, the military (including the Civilian Armed Auxiliary) and the New People’s Army: employ more tactical and humane actions.

What does it speak of this protracted conflict between ideologies and sensibilities?

There is no excuse for the death of any single civilian. Much more, for a child’s life, in a fight that has shown to have gone berserck because of the suspended peace process between the government and the National Democratic Front.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s warning to end the CPP-NPA insurgency by 2010 is being matched with this unremitting attacks, summary executions, encounters, jail attacks, gun-grabbing, and what have they, etcetera, etcetera.

Both parties have sustained losses and claimed some gains.

But the civilians have nothing to gain, and carry the brunt of all losses.

It is the public that suffered the biggest casualties to life, property, normalcy, and even sanity. The fear and terror of being caught in the crossfire is a heavy load to a people coping with poverty especially in the rural areas.

If it is a consolation, the head of the City’s Social Welfare and Development Office told a local radio station: the residents in Upper Pulangui, venue of yet the most recent mayhem have already got used to evacuating that they possibly could not be traumatized anymore. If it is true, then it is a bad sign, not a good one.

The point is every action of any of the warring parties constitute some amounts of free will choices. That they choose to go to war, is the greatest crime they commit to the civilians.

Instead, both parties choose the path of war, and what could you expect from war? There is no better war. We can never ask warring parties to tone down because civilians are there. War is always trash and it always brings violence.

Peace could also be an option, but it is a remote choice, the road less traveled, the option less taken.

Actually, it is stupid to ask both parties to employ more tactical and humane acts in conducting war. War is always inhuman.

So we better stick to the basic: choose peace and let it happen, know ceasefire and make it happen, and resume the peace talks, at all cost.


3 civilians among 18 killed in NPA-CAFGU clash in Malaybalay

Three civilians, a woman,  a seven-year-old daughter, and a village councilman, were among 18 killed as suspected members of the communist New Peoples’ Army (NPA) attacked a paramilitary detachment in Zamboanguita village in this city’s remote Upper Pulangi district past noon Tuesday.

Police identified the victims as Helen Dumogan and a still unnamed girl,
who were reported to be inside the patrol base of the Citizens Armed
Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Barangay Zamboanguita during the
attack at around 12:30p.m.

Dumogan visited her husband Winnie, one of four CAFGU personnel killed
along with 11 rebels in the almost two-hour battle.

Madi Hamsali, assistant detachment commander who was one of three
other wounded government troops, said the attack was perpetrated by a
hundred rebels who arrived in two Izusu Forward trucks.

Hamsali, who spoke while being treated at the Bethel Baptist Hospital,
said they were not able to call for backup right away because the
radio man was among those killed.

He said there were at least 15 of his colleagues in the base at the
time of the attack.

One of the trucks used by the rebels was traced to Aurelio Ramos, a barangay kagawad (village councilman) nearby Brgy. St. Peter. Ramos was found dead in another part of the village.
Lt Col. Cresente Maligmat, commanding officer of the 29th Infantry
Battalion, told DXDB that “hot pursuit operations” are ongoing as of
Wednesday morning to track down the rebels believed to be members of
the NPA Front Committee 89.

Maligmat said government troops did not arrive immediately because
they also had to clear their way.

He said eight of the rebel casualties were found in the patrol base
while three others were found in a nearby village on their way out to

He said the Army sent two companies to the area for the pursuit operations.

Virginia Flores, head of the Malaybalay City Social Welfare and Development
Office said 46 families or 207 individuals were displaced by the fighting. He said they sent relief goods early Wednesday morning.

Maligmat told RXDB the evacuees were scheduled to return on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has ordered teachers working in
the eight barangays in the district to refrain from traveling in the
area to wrap up the school year while hostilities are ongoing, an
elementary school principal told this reporter.

Zamboanguita village was also where suspected rebels burned heavy
equipment of a construction firm in 2006, sparking heavy fighting in
the neighboring villages of St. Peter that displaced thousands of

In early January this year, the city government of Malaybalay
bankrolled the training and salaries of 80 personnel for a local
paramilitary unit to work exclusively in the city under the Special
Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary (SCAA).

The city government of Malaybalay signed a memorandum of agreement
with the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade for the training and operation
of 80 personnel to be dispatched to two detachments: in the city’s
Upper Pulangui area and in Pat-pat village against communist rebels.

Later in January, suspected NPA rebels attacked the city’s jail,
carting out weapons.

Two weeks ago, Civilian Volunteer Organization members found improvised claymore
mines planted by suspected NPA rebels in a bridge near Brgy. St. Peter.

The attack came after the 45-day training of the CAFGUs and after they
were installed in Upper Pulangui.

City officials told reporters the SCAA was meant to help maintain
peace and order in the city as a “blocking force”.  (From Central Mindanao Newswatch)

3 killed in Army, NPA clash in Bukidnon

Two rebels and a government soldier were killed in an encounter between the Army’s 29th Infantry Battalion and the New People’s Army in a remote village here.

The military reported another soldier and two other rebels were wounded, and two more rebels captured in the three-hour gun battle.

The encounter occurred 12 days after suspected NPA rebels also attacked Malaybalay’s city jail.

Lt. Col Benedict Arevalo, 29IB commanding officer, said they clashed with 30 to 40 NPAs in Sitio Katipunan, Barangay Tugaya, this city on January 30.

“They are moving to amass fire power,” Arevalo told MindaNews at the sidelines of visits of Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri in at least three barangays here.

The Army claimed that around 6 a.m. they came across an encampment that looked like abandoned. By 8:30 a.m. as they were perusing the camp, armed men reportedly fired at the soldiers.

Arevalo told MindaNews Monday the move is part of a growing trend of arm-grabbing attacks of the rebel group in Mindanao. But he said it is also a possibility that they are staging to free a detained comrade. Read full story at MindaNews.com.