By FROILAN GALLARDO
Special Correspondent .
GOVERNMENT troops killed four members of the New People’s Army following a series of skirmishes in Agusan del Sur over weekend.
Col. Allan Hambala, commander of the Army’s 401st Brigade, said their troops caught the rebels foraging for food in Barangay Brook, Bunawan town in Agusan del Sur.
Hambala said the first clash occurred on Saturday, followed by another skirmish on Sunday.
Soldiers found four AK47 and M16 rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition that belonged to the rebels.
Hambala said there were no casualties on their side.
He credited the success of their operations to the program “Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (Eclip) that was designed to isolate the rebels from tribal communities.
“Without the efforts of the residents themselves in giving us timely and accurate information, we would have not pinpoint the exact location of the rebels,” Hambala said.
He said it was the villagers who gave the information of the location of the rebels.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana introduced the new counter-insurgency program to replace the old campaign strategies in the Armed Forces.
The new campaign aimed to isolate the rebels from the communities by enticing their sympathizers or their mass base to surrender or go back to the fold of government.
Eclip centralized all government agencies to provide benefits for “the reintegration of the tribal communities.”
It offers cash benefits ranging from P25,000 to P80,000 implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or agencies like Philhealth.
Col. Eugene Osias of the AFP Eastern Command based said a total of 2,699 NPA supporters have already availed the program and have disavowed the rebels since January this year.
Osias said because of this, the rebels lost several of their sanctuaries or villages who were sympathetic to them.
“Their guerrilla forces have lost the initiative in the battlefield, “ he said.
Maj. Gen. Nemesio Gacal, chief of the Army 4th Infantry Division said the target of the program are the mass bases of the NPA that have provided them support for a long time.
“The NPA can replace their armed regulars anytime but their mass supporters are irreplaceable,” Gacal said.