By Mike Crismundo
PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur – Combat maneuvering troops of the Army’s 36th Infantry (Valor) Battalion (36th IB) at early dawn Tuesday foiled the CPP-NPA terrorist (CNTs) plan to conduct atrocities in its area of operations when a series of encounters transpired in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, Capt. Francisco P. Garello Jr., Civil Military Operation (CMO) officer of the 36th IB told The Manila Bulletin Tuesday.
The 36th IB CMO officer said a planned attempt of the CNTs group to attack the Bolhoon Patrol Base of the same unit was foiled when a firefight ensued between two combat groups of the 36th IB against some 30 heavily armed CNTs in a separate encounter in Barangay Bolhoon and Barangay San Roque, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur at about 12:05 a.m. and 12:30 a.m., respectively, Tuesday.
“Combat maneuvering troops of Bravo Company, 36th IB was sent to conduct combat patrol to verify an information coming from local folks that heavily armed CNTs are converging toward Bolhoon Patrol Base ready to attack and have set up blocking forces to any government reinforcing troops,” Garello said.
“Around past midnight, 36th IB ‘Valor’ troopers clashed against more or less 15 CNTs for about 10 minutes as they clear the perimeter of the Bolhoon Patrol Base and have successfully ward them off,” he said.
On the other hand, a running gun battle also took place when other troops were deployed and encountered some 10 heavily armed CNTs believed to be the blocking force located in Barangay San Roque of the same town. “The enemy withdrew and scampered to different directions wherein the 36th IB Valor
troopers recovered one automatic AK47 rifle and improvised explosive devices with 150 meters wire, Garello added.
As of this posting, attack gunship helicopters of Tactical Operations Group (TOG) of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) strike wing and helicopter wing were deployed to extend air cover to the pursuing ground troops of the 36th IB in the Diwata ranges in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.
No one was reported hurt on the government side while an undetermined number of CNTs were either killed or wounded during the two separate gun battles, Garello added.
“These encounters were the fruit of the Security Awareness Campaign (SAC) that we have conducted on many occasions in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. The people have realized that supporting this terrorist group is futile. They are fed up with the lies and terror that was brought upon them and now support the government in its quest for peace and development in the area,” said 36th IB Valor commander Lt. Col. Xerxes A. Trinidad, in a statement sent to The Manila Bulletin today.
“Once again, we are calling the remaining CNT members to lay down their arms and surrender and there’s no other option but to surrender or suffer the tragic consequences,” he said.
“We thank the local folks of San Miguel for their valuable and timely information that led to these successful operations,” the 36th IB Valor commander added.
The troops are still conducting combat operations to pursue fleeing CNTs to ensure that they will be driven away and will not be able to sow terror in the said community, Garello added.