By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Tuesday said it continues to gain ground against communist terrorists and other terrorist groups as recent developments show they are experiencing significant setbacks following the intense military operations conducted by the security forces nationwide.
In a statement, the AFP Public Affairs Office said the number of New People’s Army (NPA) regulars and supporters coming back to the folds of the law continue to increase.
Just last week, 16 communist terrorists from the NPA, including four women and two child warriors surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion in Poblacion, Zamboanga del Sur.
On Sunday three members of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command of the NPA voluntarily surrendered to the local chief executives of barangays Lumiad, and Magsaysay, Carmen, Davao del Norte.
A certain alias Ramo, vice commander of the Pulang Bagani Command 1, SRC5, SMRC; an alias Marvin/Isak, team leader of Andoy Primera of the same group, and an alias Joa, medic of the same group, all surrendered to the government forces.
Upon their debriefing, they gave information that led to the recovery of a CAP2 landmine, a cal .38 revolver, and 400 rounds of ammunition.
“Nakikita natin na nawalan na ng suporta galing sa masa ang mga rebeldeng grupo na ito kaya sila ay tuluyan nang nagbalik loob sa gobyerno (We can see that the rebel groups are losing support from the masses that’s why they returned to government fold),” AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., said.
“Ang mga sumurender ay matataas ang katungkulan sa kanilang organisasyon. Sila na din ang nagsabi na hirap na sila at wala nang nakikitang rason upang lumaban pa sa ating pamahalaan (Those who surrendered have high positions in their organization. They are also the ones who said they are suffering and they don’t see any reason to fight the government),” he added.
In a simple ceremony led by the Task Force Balik Loob on September 27, 64 former NPA members were formally welcomed to the society in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley. They have undergone Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for former rebels.
Other former rebels in Southern Mindanao were also provided with livelihood and cash benefits in a program held in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley on September 29.
“It is not too late for you (NPAs) to surrender and leave your current miseries from fighting a useless cause.” Galvez said.
The troops of 90th Infantry Battalion recently foiled a bombing plot of the extremist group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, after acting on a report from a concerned civilian that the BIFF was planning to transport an improvised explosive device (IED).
The IED was found inside a passenger jeepney at a checkpoint in Brgy Capiton, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao Monday morning.
A red passenger jeepney traversing the national highway from Ganta, Kabuntalan, North Cotabato was flagged by the military personnel and found the suspected IED.
The civilian tipster said Kamsali Taguitikan and Rasol, under Karialan faction of the BIFF, are planning to transport the IED from the marshy area of Brgy Palongoguen in Midsayap, North Cotabato to conduct terror attack in Cotabato City.
The elements of 3rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal team of the Army immediately arrived in the area and safely disrupted the IED.
Recovered in the scene were one 81mm, one 60mm, two batteries (dry cell), one roll electrical tape, and wires.
“I commend all the troops who successfully foiled another terror attack that might have killed innocent civilians. I remind every unit and every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine not to let our guards down against terrorists,” Galvez said.
“We will continue to intensify our checkpoints and our operations against all these groups that pose a threat to our communities. I call on every individual to be vigilant and actively involved in reporting any suspicious person or activity in their localities. Only with that degree of vigilance of our people, combined with the unceasing efforts of the government security forces can we as a nation stop these terrorists.” Galvez added.