By Francis Wakefield
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., Tuesday said that he has directed military units in the country to be on alert following recent attacks staged by the New People’s Army (NPA) on military and police detachments in the Bicol Region.
In an interview, Madrigal said the Army in coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP) has stepped up its security to repel NPA attacks on government installations.
Madrigal said, although the attacks could be considered just a form of “harassment,” the government should not take any chances.
“I have directed our units to be on alert. Also, Army units are in close coordination with the PNP, we strengthened the coordination due to their (NPA) diversionary tactics,” Madrigal said In Filipino.
“What’s important is we have pro-active measures to prevent them from attacking,” he added.
Madrigal, who visited on Tuesday wounded soldiers at the V. Luna Medical Center to give them Christmas cheers this Yuletide Season, said the NPA attacks could be part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) or a form of protest following Congress approval to extend martial law in Mindanap for one more year or up to December 31, 2019.
“Actually, it could be to show that they are still here as they celebrate their anniversary. We call their attacks as “nuisance harassment”. They will fire one to two shots from afar, about 300 to 500 meters, then they will run. They do that just to say they were able to harass,” he said.
“But what we are guarding is their diversionary operation or decisive attacks, that’s what we need to guard against,” he added.
Earlier, CPP founding chairman Joma Sison of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ordered the NPA to step up its tactical offensives against the government.
The government earlier rejected proposal to reciprocate the annual declaration of truce of the NPA.
The CPP will mark its founding anniversary on December 26.