DAVAO City — The communist New People’s Army (NPA) continues to suffer setbacks in areas under the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) during the first quarter of the year, an official said.
Col. Ezra Balagtey, Eastmincom spokesperson, said a total of 59 armed encounters from January to date led to the retrieval of 68 firearms, 53 landmines, and death of 15 rebels.
Balagtey attributed most of the armed encounters to the continuous flow of information from the communities about the movements of the NPA.
He cited the March 17 encounter in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, where troops from the Army’s 28th Infantry Battalion used vital information about the number of NPA rebels and their location.
While there was no reported casualty on both sides after the NPA scampered to different directions, Balagtey said the troops recovered two M16 rifles and one grenade launcher.
Balagtey said the latest firefight on March 15, resulted in the death of an NPA rebel and the seizure of an M14 rifle and ammunition in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.
Lt. General Felimon T. Santos Jr., commander of Eastmincom, reminded all military units to ensure the protection of communities during armed encounters with the NPA.
Santos said this was significant after the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)—the NPA’s mother organization—openly directed the rebels to attack government targets.
“Let us ensure the safety of the communities. We should not allow anyone to disturb their economic endeavor and be the collateral of their evil political ideology,” Santos said.
The United States and European Union have declared the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group. (pna)