MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Eleven soldiers were wounded on Wednesday, December 26, after clashing with members of the communist New People's Army (NPA) in Monkayo, Compostela Valley.
According to a dispatch from Camp General Manuel Yan Sr, soldiers were surveying Mount Diwata when they encountered the rebels.
The military was acting on reports from civilians that the NPA was forcing people to join their celebration of the 50th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP.
Soldiers also received reports that the communist guerrillas were planting improvised explosive devices along roads for attacks on government forces.
The clash followed the refusal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to declare a holiday ceasefire, and the communists announcing an escalation of their attacks after Congress allowed martial law for one more year in Mindanao. (READ: The generals' coup in 2018: Duterte breaks up with Reds)
After the encounter, all division mates of the wounded soldiers from the 10th Infantry Division (10th ID) were ordered to go on full alert.
In a statement, 10th ID commander Brigadier General Jose Faustino condemned the attack and praised his troopers.
He added: "We are grateful for the people's support in this campaign of ending CPP's 50th year of deception and murder of innocents.... With our joint effort, both military and civilian communities, terrorist-communist atrocities will not prosper."
On Thursday, December 27, the Communist Party of the Philippines said the NPA "did the right thing when it countered an offensive operation by the AFP" in Monkayo.
"The AFP took advantage of the NPA ceasefire by mounting a military offensive in their desperation to spoil the political and cultural assemblies of revolutionary forces in line with the CPP's 50th anniversary celebration," the CPP said in a statement.
It added: "Clearly alert and with the help of the masses, the NPA unit was able to counter ambush the AFP offensive and cause casualties on the enemy forces. The AFP brought the losses they suffered upon themselves." – Rappler.com