By Media Mindanao News Service
(August 15, 1987 News Digest Volume 1, August 1987-July 1988 Posted by Davao Today)
ILIGAN CITY (MMNS) — Bangsa Moro Army (BMA) and New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas attacked a bandit gang in Lanao del Norte belying military reports that their alliance has collapsed, two underground press statements announced last week.
The statements, one signed by Brother Solitario, chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) — Ranao Norte State Revolutionary Committee (RNSRC) and the other jointly by him and Ike de los Reyes, spokesman of the Northwestern Mindanao committee of the National Democratic Front (NDF-NWM), tagged their unnamed casualties as members of the Tunda Force responsible for the killing of four NDF organizers in Tangkal town July 24.
The joint BMA-NPA operation, the first ever publicly owned by the two groups who forged an informal alliances last April, killed three Tunda Force men and wounded three others.
Published reports named the MNLF as responsible for the killing of the four NDF members which allegedly shattered the four-month MNLF-NDF alliance. De Los Reyes and Solitario branded the incident and the military’s press release as an “attempt of the fascists who are uncomfortable with the unity achieved by Muslims and Christians through the revolutionary forces of the MNLF and NDF.” The two called trhe military statement as an implementation of the US-designed “low-intensity conflict” strategy to divide the Visayan and Maranao population in Lanao even as they vowed to strengthen Muslim-Christian alliance.
“Informal BMA-NPA tactical coordination in North Central Mindanao (sic) will continue as necessary,” Solitario wrote. He twitted Col. Raul Aquino, head of the Army’s 2/1 brigade and Lanao’s senior military officer for “trying to prove his expertise in the theories of divide and conquerand thereby regain his elusive star.” it is widely believed that Aquino missed the one-star rank promotion last month because of the Pantar Massacre which killed five Muslims including two Malaysian missionaries.
The rebels cited the “divisive scheme” of the military and civilian officials in the formation of vigilante groups and the proliferation of the paramilitary Ilagas, Tadtads and Tunda force in the province.
They also warned military and civilian officials from reviving Muslim-Christian difference citing recent cases of unsolved killings of Christians in Marawi City by Maranao gunmen and the burning of stalls of Maranao vendors in this city by Christian accomplices last July 24.
The military had claimed that the Tunda Force belonged to the MNLF but Solitario belied this saying that Tunda Force and other bandits are not part of RNSRC which is “perhaps the most advanced MNLF region in terms of political maturity and consciousness.”
He described the Tunda Force members who killed the four NDFs as “Maranaw capitulationists who surrendered 10 years ago to the government” and allowed themselves to be used by the AFP as infiltrators. He confessed having been “put to a terribly shameful situation” when his NDF guests were killed by the “makapilis,” referring to Filipino pro-Japanese collaborators during the 2nd World War.
His NDF visitors had befriended two of the four perpetrators four days before the incident. There were seven NDF members during the killing, the statement said.
The Tunda Force team was led by one Kaunting whom Solitario recalled as the brother of Jackery, an ex-MNLF commander in Magsaysay who masterminded the operation.
The MNLF and NDF dispatched BMA and NPA fighters to Tangkal August 1 and clashed with a joint “CHDF-Tunda Force” team two days later. The joint operation followed a fact-finding mission sent by the RNSRC and NDF-NWM. The rebels also tried to negotiate with the perpetrators for the return of the firearms taken from the NPAs but failed. A military press release said the NPA lost to the Tunda Force one carbine, one M16, three garands, one .45 cal. pistol, one 38 cal. revolver and oneradio handset.
The BMA-NPA operation, according to Solitario had the “unanimous” endorsement from the people of Tangkal, Magsaysay and Munai. The two statements did not say if they recovered the lost NPA hardware but they claimed they were “successful” in meting out punishment on the Tunda Force. (Media Mindanao News Service News Digest Volume 1, August 1987-July 1988 Posted by Davao Today)