FOR the last 10 days the Armed Forces of the Philippines scored big against the New People’s Army of the Communist Party of the Philippines in various places in Mindanao. It started with the killing of Jevilyn Cullamat, an armed medic of an NPA band operating in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur. Jevilyn is the daughter of Bayan Muna Party List Representative Eufemia Cullamat.
In Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, combined military and police forces killed the NPA Regional Ordnance Chief, his wife, and three of his comrades in a firefight.
Like in Surigao, the government forces recovered high-powered firearms from the neutralized members of the terrorist groups responsible for murder cases, arson, and bombings.
The most significant government victory moreover was in Davao City. Twelve hot pursuit operations assisted this time by leaders of indigenous tribes who had been. fed up with the NPA recruitments of their children resulted in the killing of 10 communist armed elements. Another nine members of the Red Army either surrendered or captured in the unrelenting drive of the government forces for the last three months. Of the nine who were presented to Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio by the 1003rd Brigade and its 10th Infantry Division were two former teachers at the UCCP Haran, a holding place of what the religious leaders claimed as a temporary shelter for indigenous children. The two were later captured in the recent armed encounter with the terrorist band in the Paquibato, a hinterland of Davao City. They served as medic and supply officer of the NPAs operating in the area. Also captured was the guerilla front 55 (GF55) political lecturer who turned out to be a former student from UP Diliman and is affiliated with Anak Bayan and Kabataang Makabayan.
The relentless campaign against the Red Army resulted in the seizure of 30 high-powered firearms, four sidearms, and four improvised explosives
In a brief talk to the captured rebels, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio asked them to help the government in convincing their former comrades to return and work with the government. She said that “ the real war is inside the government and not in the mountains. They can see change if they work with or for the government,” she said.
In the three incidents, it is quite obvious that the CPP/NPA sows the seeds of rebellion in the university campuses, the indigenous people's community but also the gullible religious sector. It appears that the Reds made a successful foray into these fertile areas for activism, to cast discontent and took advantage of the people’s ignorance of how they are being exploited. That lull created by a series of futile peace negotiations only provided the terrorist band to use its legal fronts to regroup, recruit, retrain and rearm.
President Rodrigo Duterte in his most acerbic statement made no distinctions between Reds and Communists asserting that he personally knows those who are in cahoots with the terrorist group. He personally named Rep. Carlos Zarate who had been critical of his administration at every turn. Duterte who had been quiet all the time unleashed his tirade against the party-list congressman from Davao City ascribing to him verbiage of latrine counter-attack. Zarate, true to form, however, countered that Duterte is merely diverting issues against the government. He had earlier claimed that he is not a communist.
That is a verbal tussle between the President and Bayan Muna's top gun. In the meantime, the government forces had beefed up its war arsenals with more helicopter gunships and other armaments. On the ground, the leaders of indigenous people had closed rank with the government forces resulting in a series of successful campaigns against the Red Army.