MANILA – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., has commended various military units in eastern and western Mindanao for their success in seizing 21 high-powered firearms belonging to the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) during operations early this month.
“The AFP leadership commends the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division, to which 66th Infantry Battalion and 67th Infantry Battalion belong, and the 1st Infantry Division, where the 97th IB and 42nd IB are attached, for their string of successes in degrading the communist terrorist‘s armed capability,” Santos said in a statement on Tuesday.
Santos added that the seizure of high-powered firearms is a significant accomplishment against the communist rebels who have no compunction of using these weapons to terrorize rural communities and target innocent civilians.
He added that the majority of these weapons were confiscated through information provided by former rebels and communities.
Santos was referring to the May 1 operations of the 66IB in Lupon, Davao de Oro where an M-60 machine gun, three M-16, and one M-14 rifles were seized, and the May 3 patrol of the 67IB in Banganga, Davao Oriental where another three M-16 rifles and an M-2 carbine were confiscated.
In a separate operation, also on May 3, the 67IB also discovered an arms cache in Cateel, Davao Oriental containing five M-16 rifles, two AK-47 rifles, an M-4 carbine, an M-203 grenade launcher, one M-14 rifle, and an M-653 rifle.
“The CTs (communist terrorists) are known to flee pursuing government forces by burying their weapons and ammunition and scampering into smaller groups. These gains added up to the previous 26 firearms seized from the communist terrorists in Davao since the ceasefire lapsed in April,” the AFP said in a separate statement.
Members of the CPP-NPA who previously surrendered to the Army willingly provided the location of the arms caches.
A former rebel under the alias “Noli” voluntarily surrendered to the 66IB and the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) headed by Davao de Oro Governor Jayvee Tyron L. Uy, while an alias “Jeckol” surrendered to the 67IB.
In a related development in western Mindanao, a high-powered firearm was seized after combined elements of the 97IB and the 42IB encountered about 40 communist rebels in Zamboanga del Norte in the early morning of May 4.
Operating troops conducting security patrol engaged in a 45-minute firefight against a guerilla unit of the NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee in the town of Siayan.
While clearing the encounter site, troops seized one M-60 machine gun; a spare M-60 barrel; three pieces of improvised explosive devices; two AK-47 magazines; 289 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition; one medical kit; two boxes of assorted medicines; two bandoliers; one electronic multi-tester; personal belongings; and subversive documents.
“The AFP assures our people of the military’s relentless efforts to prevent communist terrorist groups from spreading harm and violence in the region amidst the country’s ongoing battle against (the coronavirus disease 2019) Covid-19,” Santos said.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (ia/PNA)