ILOILO CITY – The 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) of the Philippine Army is winning in its campaign against the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) in Panay.
Maj. Cenon Pancito III, the spokesperson of the 3ID, in an interview on Wednesday, said they have “successfully achieved” their objectives for 2020.
Data provided by the spokesman showed that last year 15 barangays in Panay composed of 11 from Iloilo and four from Capiz were cleared from the influence of CTGs.
Their continuous campaign also resulted in the neutralization of 25 CTG members to include one who surrendered from Capiz; while in Iloilo four were killed, 12 have surrendered, and eight were apprehended.
Their operations yielded a total of 11 low-powered firearms and eight high-powered firearms.
“Our tools and tactics have proven effective as government troops retain the upper hand in our fight with the insurgents,” Pancito said.
Among those that tactics employed were the deployment of community support teams in the so-called influenced barangays, focused military operations, and active participation on the whole of nation approach.
“With this, we shall maintain our momentum to effectively dismantle the remaining guerrilla fronts, pursue some more red fighters and clear the remaining CTG-influenced barangays,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jenelyn Bilbao, village chief of Barangay Katipunan, in Tapaz, Capiz, said their village was declared as cleared from the influence of CTGs in 2017.
After a year, a detachment of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) was established in the barangay as “Katipunan used to be a hotbed in Panay,” she said.
On Jan. 8, she brought with her members of the family of an active New People’s Army (NPA) member alias “Tonying” to the “VOLTing in for Peace” event of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in Calinog, Iloilo to seek assurance from authorities that they will not be subjected to police operations.
Together with 12 other residents of the barangays, who are said to be active demonstrators in previous anti-government rallies, the family of Tonying pledged allegiance to the government.
Pancito said though Barangay Katipunan has been cleared from the influence of the CTGs, there is still a need to revisit the place.
He said Katipunan is within the “guerrilla base” of NPA rebels so there is a need to follow up after they carried out community support program efforts.
“For now we have deployed seven teams to nine adjacent barangays so the cleared areas will be widened and will not be easily recovered by the enemies. We have noted that these areas are the stronghold of the NPAs, they have been there for decades so we need to have more intensified efforts in our clearing,” he added.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)