Clashes erupt in Davao Oriental despite holiday ceasefire

MANILA, Philippines – Clashes between the military and communist rebels disturbed Christmas day celebrations in two towns in Davao Oriental despite the holiday ceasefire. 

The Philippine Army 10th Infantry Division (ID) accused the communist New People's Army (NPA) of harassing two separate military patrol bases which triggered the Christmas Day firefights. One rebel group supposedly tried to capture the government troops.

The 10th ID commander, Major General Noel Clement, slammed the rebels for violating ceasefire declarations. The Communist Party of the Philippines declared a Christmas ceasefire from December 23 to December 26.

“It was absolutely a clear violation of ceasefire made by the terrorist NPA to disrupt our efforts in making sure Christmas will be celebrated peacefully. Their celebration is usually accompanied by armed attacks against the people that reflect their true color as a criminal organization void of any ideology," Clement said. 

The military said the communist rebels on Monday, December 25, first harassed troops of the 72nd Infantry Battalion under Staff Sergeant Bienvenido Paquita Jr at around 9:30 a.m. at Sitio Madian in the town's barangay Tubaon. About 30 fully armed rebels supposedly chased and attempted to capture the soldiers. 

Later in the evening, at around 7:30 p.m., another group of communist rebels reportedly harassed troops at barangay Melale in nearby town Laak. The military said the troops faced members of Guerilla Front 34.

"Upon sensing that the detachment was being harassed, the troops immediately established defensive position and returned fire. The firefight lasted for about two minutes and the enemy withdrew towards Northwest direction," the military said. 

There were no casualties on the side of the military. –