NPA tackles 39th IB’s abusive operations, expansion in North Cotabato

Isabel Fermiza
Mt. Apo Subregional Command - NPA-Southern Mindanao Region
February 20, 2014

Successive tactical offensives launched by the Guerilla Front 51 Operations Command under the Mt. Apo Subregional Command-New People’s Army in Digos and Makilala towns this month were meant to stymie the abusive military operations of the notorious 39th Infantry Battalion-10th ID-AFP.

On Feb. 18 at 3:30 am, NPA explosives killed scores of 39th IB soldiers at the military detachment in Jansig, Barangay Old Bulatukan, Makilala. Earlier, on February 10 at 2:30pm, the NPA ambushed the Scout platoon of the 39th IB in sitio lutangan, Brgy. Goma, Digos City.

Eight fascist troops were killed, while nine were wounded from the command detonated explosives and actual combat. The NPA confiscated 1 m14 high powered rifle, several backpacks and medical kits. One Red fighter, Ka Jiboy, was martyred and two other NPA guerillas were wounded.

The offensives were aimed at the 39th IB’s forward deployment at Makilala and Tulunan towns in North Cotabato, expanding its former territorial jurisdiction which covered all towns of Davao del Sur. Arrogant and fascist to the core, the 39th IB swaggers as the 10th ID’s biggest battalion, in a desperate move to widen its area of abuses.

On February 9, at 2pm, combat troops of the 39th IB chanced upon Lumads who were hunting and detained them for two hours in the forest of Brgy. Batasan, Makilala. Interrogated endlessly and threatened were  Elorde Panggilan, Denis Panggilan, Dexter Panggilan, Ariel Panggilan, Randy Emban, Lodring Emban, Ryan Baclao, Jonel de Guzman, Wowie de Guzman, Henry Ando and Roel de Vera. The 12 civilians were only released when villagers and village officials negotiated and pleaded for their freedom from the clutches of the fascist 39th IB troops.

The incident was a prelude to more abusive activities by the 39th IB Special Operations Teams (SOTs) in Makilala, ranging from psychological warfare, forced surrender, and encampment in civilian structures in all of the town’s barangays. In one instance, soldiers, in a display of cowardice and desperation, took pictures of attendance sheets of a village meeting to identify leaders and members of peasant organizations.

It was reminiscent of the battalion’s bloody trackrecord, which included the killing of Bador Dante of Brgy. Kisante and Tata Dante of Brgy. Malasila in Makilala town, Ignacio Ecoy in sitio Tabor, Brgy. Goma, Bido Ecoy, Rody Panogan of sitio Guela, Brgy. Goma and Tata Panogan all in Digos City in 2005; Boy Navarez  at sitio Alo, Brgy. Darapuay, Ester Patiga at Sitio Balagonon, Brgy. Managa, and Renato Jumawan of Brgy. Managa, all in Bansalan town in 2006; and the Dejoses of Sta.Cruz town in 2011.

Indeed, the 10th ID's declaration that Davao del Sur is already NPA-free a few months back was not only an empty claim in the light of the expansion and aggressive military operations of 39th IB in both Davao del Sur and North Cotabato provinces. It also signaled that the AFP intends to spread its rule of human rights abuses from one province to another under its tactic of engaging one AFP battalion for every NPA guerilla command.

By superciliously overextending and directing its fangs against hapless peasants and Lumads, the 39th IB further exposes itself as an army of frantic cowards hiding cover under the brutal yet futile counter-revolutionary program of Oplan Bayanihan. The masses must intensify its militant struggle against this fresh wave of notoriety and fascism, while the NPA strengthens itself as a true army and defender of the people.