MANILA – Still reeling from a setback brought by the capture of 10 rebels on Sept. 8, the New People’s Army (NPA) in Bukidnon figured anew in two clashes with Army soldiers that resulted in the death of one, arrest of four including 2 minors, and seizure of eight firearms.
Brig. Gen. Ferdinand T Barandon, 403rd Brigade commander, in a press release on Saturday, confirmed the firefights with NPA rebels in Talakag and Valencia City in Bukidnon on Sept. 9 and 10, respectively, a day after a clash in Barangay Mabuhay, San Fernando, Bukidnon.
Barandon said soldiers of the 88th Infantry Battalion headed by Lt. Col. James Christian Vingno engaged more or less 10 NPA rebels led by one “alias DR” of Platoon Bagsik, Guerilla Front (GF) Malayag of the Sub Regional Committee 2 (SRC) of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) in a firefight at around 7 am of Sept. 10 in Purok 10, Sitio Narulang, Barangay Laligan, Valencia City, Bukidnon.
2 more minors
A 30-minute firefight resulted in the capture of four NPA rebels, and seizure of six firearms – 3 M16 rifles and three AR15 rifles.
Two of the 4 captured NPA rebels were minors identified only as alias RK, 15 years old, and Jason, 17.
Saddened by the unfortunate loss of life, Maj. Gen. Romeo S Brawner Jr., commander of 4ID, expressed alarm over the involvement of two more minors in the Sept. 10 armed encounter.
On Sept. 8, three minors were among the 10 captured NPA rebels during an armed encounter between soldiers and communist terrorists belonging to the same Guerilla Front Malayag of SRC2, NCMRC in a forested area in Barangay Mabuhay, San Fernando, Bukidnon.
Brawner Jr. earlier decried the NPA’s wanton violation of the children’s human rights and the International Humanitarian Law in recruiting minors.
He appealed to local government officials to extend assistance to the captured rebels and the fatality including their families.
“Naghihinayang tayo sa mga buhay na nawala dahil sa walang katuturang idolohiya na sinusulong ng teroristang CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front) lalo na may mga menor de edad na nagagamit at nababawela ang karapatang pantao. Sila man ay kalaban ng pamahalaan, hindi natin maikakaila na biktima lang din sila sa mga pagmamanipula at panloloko ng mga kumunistang CPP-NPA-NDF (It is a waste of lives to a worthless communist terrorist cause especially that children are being used, disregarding human rights. Clearly, they are victims of CPP-NPA-NDF lies and deceptions),” Brawner said.
A report from the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) said the information provided by community residents led soldiers to communists’ hideouts.
“We thank the civilians who voluntarily and actively participated in our fight against the communist terrorist groups by relaying timely information. Without their help, these terrorists will still roam freely and continuously threaten the peace in our communities,” Barandon added.
Foiled NPA attack
Meanwhile, the 1st Special Forces Battalion (1SFBn) under 403rd Brigade on Sept. 9 foiled a planned attack against the personnel and equipment of 524th Engineering Brigade constructing a road project for the benefit of the residents in Barangay Baylanan, Talakag, Bukidnon.
The 1SFBn encountered around 20 NPA rebels belonging to NPA Guerilla Front 68B of SRC4, NCMRC in Sitio Piglacogan, Brgy Tikalaan, Talakag, Bukidnon that left one NPA rebel dead.
Aside from two rifle grenades, an M16 rifle and one 9MM Barrette were recovered.
He added that the Army will not allow the CPP-NPA-NDF to continue deceiving the people.
The Army’s presence in the communities, he said, is due to the continuous presence of the NPA conducting extortion and in order to shield them from communist terrorists’ threats.
He appealed to the people not to be afraid and report the presence of wounded rebels or those seeking refuge in their communities after a series of armed clashes with NPA guerrillas.
“Nananawagan po tayo sa mga mamamayan na kung merun silang nalalaman na sugatang NPA o meron po silang nalalamang NPA na nagtatago pagkatapos nitong ilang beses na sagupaan sa Bukidnon, sabihan po sila na huwag po silang matakot. Isangguni po sila sa mga opisyales ng barangay upang maalalayan at maihatid sa aming pinakamalapit na kampo sa inyung lugar,” he said..
He assured remaining NPA rebels of their security and new opportunities with their families upon their surrender to the government.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The NDF has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA. (PNA)