BUTUAN CITY – A team from the Community Support Program (CSP) of the Third Special Forces Battalion (3rd SFBn) encountered heavily armed New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists, and seized high powered weapons and other war materials in Sitio Panukmuan, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga Surigao del Sur.
In a phone interview with The Manila Bulletin on Tuesday afternoon, 3rd SFBn Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer First Lt. Krisjuper Andreo J. Punsalan said the CSP team was conducting peace and development program in highland communities when it was engaged by an undetermined number of rebels in Panukmuan area on Monday, July 20.
“Due to our troops’ vantage position, the rebels disengaged from the gunfight, ran away then mixed with the highland community,” claimed the 3rd SFBN CMO officer.
The CSP team seized at the encounter site an AK47 rifle, an M16 Armalite rifle, an AK mag, an M16 mag, two shotguns, assorted live ammunitions, 1 VPHONE smartphone, five keypad phones, one tablet, one power bank, assorted documents with high intelligence value and personal belongings.
Meanwhile, 3rd SFBn commander Lt. Col. Joey B. Baybayan urged the evading terrorists not to mixed with the hapless highland villagers.
“The rebels mixed with the indigenous peoples (IP) community to evade government forces,“ the 3rd SFBn commander said.
On the other hand, the Manobo tribe sectoral leaders in the area also appealed to human rights group to condemn the Communist insurgents from using civilians as human shields.
“We call on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) and other rights groups to condemn in the highest terms and take action against Communist NPA terrorists who use the IP community as human shields,“ Lianga IP Mandatory Representative (IPMR) Hawudon Jumar Bucales said.