DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 6, 2012) – The New People’s Army on Tuesday owned up to the killing of 4 government soldiers in an attack in Davao City in the southern Philippines. Rebel leader Leoncio Pitao said they also seized the soldiers’ weapons following a fire fight at a checkpoint in the village of Mapula in Paquibato District over the weekend. He said one rebel was also wounded in the clash. The military said the soldiers, who belonged to the 69th Infantry Battalion, were unarmed and off-duty when rebels attacked them. “The four armed AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) regulars were killed, one of them died several meters away from the scene, while an NPA member was wounded in the ensuing troops engagement which the AFP ridiculously painted as a brutal murder of its – unarmed, off-duty soldiers,”
Pitao said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner. He said the clashes can hardly be described as massacre or abduction, “for it was a fitting retribution against a notorious Army unit feared and hated by the peasant masses in Paquibato.” Pitao said those killed were members of the army’s special operations team responsible for the summary execution of Mires Esdang, a hemp farmer in Paquibato, on October 18, and other grave abuses ranging from psychological warfare against peasants, intimidation of families of NPA rebels. He said the soldiers also forced many to villagers to surrender and coerced civilians to act as military guides, and other human rights violations in Paquibato. Pitao also urged government soldiers to resign from the military service and join the struggle against state tyranny. “In the face of the AFP atrocities, its poor and also exploited regular men and women on the field should instead leave their criminal and corrupt masters.” “The NPA exhorts them to join the people’s struggle against imperialism, feudalism and state tyranny.
As fascism and exploitation continues, the people and the revolutionary forces aspire to raise the level of armed resistance, wage agrarian revolution and strengthen themselves to advance the people’s war and defeat the enemy,” he said. In March 2009, Pitao’s daughter Rebelyn, was abducted in Davao City and her naked body was found floating in a shallow creek in the village of San Isidro in Davao del Norte’s Carmen town. Her body bore torture marks and was believed raped before she was stabbed in the chest and Pitao later tagged 11 military agents as behind the murder.