The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) suffered at least 14 casualties in more than two weeks of all-out military offensive and massive bombardment at the height of preparations for Christmas and New Year holidays in the boundaries of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur provinces, according to initial reports from field commands of the New People’s Army.
“After declaring it will not observe a ceasefire this holiday season, the AFP ordered its forces to go on an all-out offensive and massive bombardment in the vain hope of stopping the people to gather in the NPA guerrilla zones to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP),” said the CPP.
According to NPA-Northcentral Mindanao Spokesman Malem Mabini, the AFP mobilized more than 400 combat troops from the 8th Infantry Battalion (IB), the 58th IB, Charlie Company of the 4th ID, the 4th Division Reconnaisance Company, the Special Action Forces, Scout Rangers at local CAFGU units. From December 2 to December 14, at least 43 6×6 military trucks roared into rural villages to transport enemy soldiers into the battle zone.
“By mounting non-stop combat operations and incessant shelling and bombing, however, the AFP is spoiling the peace and holiday preparations of the residents in the community. Also, they have doused on the high hopes of their foot soldiers to have a brief respite during the holidays to be with their families,” said the CPP.
The AFP conducted almost daily artillery shelling and aerial bombardment using MD-520 attack helicopters which traumatized civilian residents in the area. Soldiers pounded the area with at least 14 rounds of artillery from 105 Howitzers on the evening of December 7, 11 rounds on December 8, scores of rockets from MD-520, 15 rounds of artillery on December 12, 11 rounds of artillery on the evening of December 13, and scores of rockets fired from attack helicopters from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on December 16.
As a result, the livelihood of Lumad residents in the area has been severely affected especially in Sitio Lakbangan and Sitio Kalhaan in Barangay Minalwang, Claveria, Misamis Oriental, as well as in Barangays Kalabugao, Bulonay and Hagpa in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon and in Sitio Kulili, Barangay San Vicente, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur.
Going on active defense posture, local NPA units in the area carried out guerrilla strikes resulting in at least four encounters with operating troops of AFP over the past few days. On December 6, an encounter broke out in Barangay Minalwang, while the three other encounters happened in Barangay Mahagwa on December 7, 8 and 13.
AFP troops suffered at least 14 casualties. Based on reports of local residents, the enemy brought out two cadavers in Barangay Jagpa on December 7, 2018. At midnight, several ambulances entered Barangay Calabugao to pick up at least 12 wounded soldiers.