By Mike Crismundo
BUTUAN CITY – Joint elements of the Philippine Army’s 9th Special Forces (Hounds) Company of the 3rd Special Forces (Arrowhead) Battalion (3rd SFBn) and the 13th Regional Mobile Force Battalion (13th RMFB) of Caraga Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) seized a New People’s Army (NPA) arms cache in Mt. Gacob, Sitio Magkahunaw, Barangay Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur.
In a statement sent to The Manila Bulletin on Tuesday, First Lt. Krisjuper Andreo J. Punsalan, Civil Military Operation (CMO) officer, said the combined government security forces recovered the arms cache last Friday including caliber 30 Garand rifles, bomb-making materials, explosives, and assorted live ammunitions.
The seizure of the arms was made based on the tip provided by two rebel surrenderees – “Ka John” and “Ka Dave” on the exact location of the cache, Punsalan said.
“The declaration of the members of the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) as persona non-grata by the Surigao del Sur province and the institutionalization of the Local Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (LTF-ELCAC) of the province down to its municipalities played a role in the influx of rebel surrenderees in Surigao Sur, “said 3rd SFBn commander Lt. Col. Joey B. Baybayan.
During the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting held last January 6 presided by Surigao del Sur Gov. Alexander T. Pimentel, the council observed the significant decrease in the number of NPA’s violent and non-violent activities in Surigao Sur.
The participation of residents in demonstrations organized by anti-government militant groups allegedly linked to CNTs also significantly decreased, he added.
Col. Allan D. Hambala, commanding officer of the Army’s 401st Infantry (Unite and Fight) Brigade lauded the provincial government of Surigao Del Sur for its steadfast support to end insurgency.
In the whole region of Caraga, the province of Surigao del Sur was the first to declare that CNTs are not welcome, the 401st Brigade commander noted.
The Philippine Army in Caraga region and the Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict called on the remaining CNTs to abandon their armed struggle and to avail of the Enhanced Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).