MANILA, Philippines — Communist rebels claimed to have successfully mounted two offensives in as many days in Quezon province’s Bondoc Peninsula and said they were investigating and verifying reports that civilians had been wounded in one of the attacks.
On Monday afternoon, February 26, guerrillas of the New People’s Army’s Apolonio Mendoza Command raided a detachment of the Tumbaga Ranch in Barangay Pagsangahan, San Francisco town, gaining control of the outpost without firing a shot and seizing 10 firearms, including six M16 rifles, ammunition and military gear.
Rebel spokeswoman Cleo del Mundo said in a statement that the rebels captured and later freed unharmed six security guards and two government militiamen then burned the detachment.
Around 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, she said, guerrillas ambushed a military truck ferrying troops of the 85th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Bacong Ilaya, General Luna, and claimed five soldiers were killed and nine others wounded. She said the dead were taken to the morgue in Catanauan town and the seriously injured taken by ambulance to a hospital in Lucena City.
However, the military confirmed only four soldiers were wounded in the ambush. It also reported five civilians — a woman and her two young children riding a jeepney and two men in a tricycle — were wounded when the rebels detonated an explosive device.
Reacting to this, Del Mundo said: “Nasa proseso pa kami ng pag-iimbistiga at pagbeberipika sa iniulat na may limang nasugatang sibilyan sa isinagawa naming ambus. Nililinaw naming pinakamataas na pagsasaalang-alang ang ginagawa ng NPA sa buhay at kabuhayan ng mga sibilyan sa bawat inilulunsad naming operasyon. Nakahanda kaming magpuna at magbayad ng kaukulang danyos perwisyo sa mga nasugatang sibilyan kung ito man ay totoo. Hinihikayat naming lumapit sa alinmang yunit ng NPA ang pamilya ng mga nasugatan.”
(We are in the process of investigating and verifying reports that five civilians were wounded in the ambush. We clarify that the NPA holds the lives and livelihood of civilians paramount in every operation we mount. We are ready for criticism and to pay the proper damages to the wounded civilians if true. We urge the families of the victims to approach any NPA unit.)
Del Mundo said the operations of the Apolonio Mendoza Command were meant to “support the peasant masses’ struggle to break up the haciendas on the Bondoc Peninsula and distributed the lands to farmers for free.”
“Magpapatuloy na magsasagawa ng mga operasyong reyd at ambus ang mga yunit ng Apolonio Mendoza Command laban sa mga armadong goons ng mga panginoong maylupa at laban sa mga pwersa ng AFP-PNP-CAFGU upang wasakin ang mga ito hanggang sa makamit ang mithiin ng mga magsasaka na magkaroon ng sariling lupang binubungkal,” she added.
(The units of the Apolonio Mendoza Command will continue to mount raids and ambuscades against the landlords’ armed goons and the forces of the AFP-PNP-CAFGU to crush them until the farmers realize their dream of owning the land they till.)