Government soldiers encountered anew members of New People's Army (NPA), March 17 at two separate locations in Bukidnon as locals reported the terrorists’ extortion operation.
The encounters involved 1st Special Forces Battalion (1SFB) where the gunbattle occurred at the foot of Mt. Kitanglad, while the other was with 8th Infantry Battalion (8IB) at the foot of Pantaron Mountain Range.
"NPA's 51st Anniversary is coming, the reason why they rushed their extortion efforts as this is also the period when Communist NPA cadres fetch their student recruits from schools and from nearby communities and take these recruits up to their hideouts. They needed money to show young activists that masses support their cause, but the fact is they forced and threaten residents to give," said Colonel Ferdinand Barandon, 403rd Brigade Commander.
This is when locals turn to us for help and protection. Some of them even demanded “lechon” to celebrate their bloody anniversary every 29th of March, Barandon added.
The New People's Army was established on March 29, 1969 in Central Luzon to impose the will of the Communist Party of the Philippines headed by Jose Maria Sison.
"The worst is while we are facing the threat of pandemic COVID-19, they are taking advantage of the situation to threaten locals. What they didn't know is we have reserve forces to respond and defend communities," Barandon explained.
He said the rebels are desperate because civilians are now cooperating with the Philippine Army by reporting the NPA’s presence in the communities and seeking military assistance.
"Why can't they just lay down their arms be with their families, stop their extortion and trafficking of students? And we will have a stronger country that will face this pandemic," Barandon appealed.
To date, units from 403rd Brigade man their respective posts to assist in Community Quarantine.
Meanwhile, the 65IB focus is west Misamis Oriental and northwest Bukidnon; the 58IB on East MisOr, Task Force Oro in Cagayan de Oro City; 1SFB in northeast Bukidnon; 8IB in central Bukidnon; and 88IB in southern Bukidnon. (403rd Bde/PIA10)
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