MANILA – Communist rebels attacked military forces in Bukidnon early Saturday morning, leaving two injured, police said.
A Citizen Active Auxiliary squad led by two Special Forces officers was headed towards the Mt. Kitanglad Relay Station when they hit a land mine and were then attacked by armed men believed to belong to the New People's Army's (NPA) Guerilla Front 68 around 6:30 a.m.
The incident happened just as Mindanao was placed under martial law due to the ongoing firefight between government troops and terrorists in Marawi City.
The Bukidnon attack also occurred just government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) were set to hold the fifth round of peace negotiations in the Netherlands.
Supt. Lemuel Gonda, spokesperson of the Philippine National Police in Region 10, said two civilian auxiliary forces were injured in the firefight in Sitio Intavas, Barangay Laportuna, Impasugong.
Reinforcement troops were sent to the area.
Some nearby residents sought safety at the barangay hall in Intavas during the clash.
Amid the NPA attack, the NDFP, the rebel group's mother organization, condemned the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.
Martial law places civilians under the threat of abuse by the military and police, who might be emboldened to commit abuses such as enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings with impunity, due to the power they are given, said NDFP-Mindanao spokesperson Joaquin Jacinto in a statement.
With the martial rule, government forces may arrest anyone caught in the act of rebellion even without a court-issued warrant.
“Martial law is not and will never be the solution to the basic problems that prevail in the country. In fact, it will only serve to aggravate and worsen it. Mindanao is just the beginning; we must mobilize to stop it from spreading to the Visayas and Luzon, and push for its lifting,” he said.
The group also condemned clashes in Marawi City, but said that the firefights could have been avoided if the government did not neglect and worsen the situation through “deceptive solutions” which have allowed extremists to take root among the Moro people in Mindanao.