AFP denies backing tribe head’s ‘private army’

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Thursday, July 17, 2014


THE Philippine Army has denied claims of the New People’s Army (NPA) that the military is behind the “private army” that the NPA encountered last Tuesday inside the compound of Datu Calpito Egua.

Major Christian Uy, public information officer of the Philippine Army's 4th Infantry Division (4ID), in a phone interview with Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Wednesday afternoon, said the NPA's accusation “is something to justify their criminal act.”

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In an e-mailed statement released by the NPA on Wednesday, it said the purpose of the series of attacks in Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur on Tuesday morning is to disband the private army formed by Egua in barangays Santa Irene, La Purisima, both in Prosperidad and Bitan-agan in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur.

Maria Malaya, National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Northeastern Mindanao (NDFP-NEMR) spokesperson, said that Egua's private army “is made up through the help of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu).”

"We attacked the troops of Egua which is backed up by the PNP-AFP-Cafgu to put an end to the unruly and inhumane acts they committed to the people because they serve their own interest," Malaya stated.

Malaya also called the military's commitment to eradicate private armies “insincere and superficial.”

“This is the reason why Egua has accumulated more forces that have up to 60 members of his private army to strengthen their control in mining and logging areas in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur and generate more money for themselves,” she added.

The Maoist rebel group first attacked the house of Datu Egua around 5:30 a.m. at his compound in Barangay Santa Irene that left 14 NPA insurgents and 2 lumads dead. The second attack occurred at Sitio Inawagan in Barangay La Purisima, while the third attack happened in Barangay Bitan-agan. Both attacks did not record casualty.

However, while the NPA rebels blocked the national highway in Barangay Hamogaway in Bayugan City in Agusan Sur for possible military reinforcement, resulting to one casualty from the rebel group.

The primary goal of the NPA is to abolish the armed instruments since they are used to serve the interest of the businessmen and foreign capitalists, the NPA said.

“The attack against him was for the justice he owed to the people,” Malaya said.

However, Uy considered this statement of the group as “covering up their criminal acts.”

“The real score is they extort, they oppress, and they recruit people in the community. They want to occupy the ancestral domain of Datu Egua,” Uy said of the NPA attack.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 17, 2014.

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