MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday said their series of successful operations bring the organization closer to its vision of defeating the communist insurgency.
“As we come close to the second half of this year, we are proud to report that our internal security operations continue to bring us closer to realizing our vision of a complete victory against the communist scourge in the country,” AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. said in a statement.
This came as six members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed and eight others were captured in joint military and police operations from May 24 to 30.
“Our troops on the ground continue to prove their operational excellence in neutralizing the threats posed by the communist terrorist group in the countryside. Our strong partnership with local chief executives also helped NPA members to safely return to the fold of the law,” he added.
On May 24, a rebel was killed in combat operations by troops of the 26th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Mahagsay, San Luis, Agusan Del Sur. Found in the encounter site were three AK-47 automatic rifles.
Meanwhile, a notorious NPA unit leader identified as Allan Aguilando was killed in an encounter with troops of the 43rd Infantry Battalion in Barangay New Rizal, Catarman, Northern Samar on May 26. A .45-caliber pistol was recovered from him.
Meanwhile, a joint law enforcement operation on May 27 conducted by the 2nd Infantry Battalion and the Philippine National Police (PNP) resulted in an encounter with around 15 NPA rebels in Barangay Mabiton, Claveria, Masbate.
Two cadavers were found abandoned in the encounter site along with seven assorted firearms.
Joint AFP-PNP elements also figured in an encounter with NPA rebels reportedly extorting at a banana plantation in Barangay Langgal, Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat on May 29. Two NPA members were killed in the clash while troops recovered a .38-caliber pistol, a hand grenade, and PHP150,000 extortion money.
Similar operations also resulted in the capture of several NPA personalities — one in Agusan Del Norte on May 25; three in North Cotabato with two assorted firearms on May 26; two in San Mariano, Isabela with three assorted firearms and another two in Surigao del Sur on May 28.
Meanwhile, two NPA rebels were apprehended in Surigao del Sur after being intercepted on board an ambulance at a checkpoint on May 30.
They were identified as Joel Montero Delahiba and Jessica Quillano Agustin and were found to have sustained their wounds from the massive military operations at the boundary of Agusan Del Sur and Surigao del Sur early in May.
Meanwhile, 18 rebels have voluntarily surrendered to authorities from May 8 to 27.
These include two NPA members in Davao del Norte on May 8, 13 in Sarangani on May 25, and two NPAs and one “underground movement” member in South Cotabato on May 27. The rebels surrendered a total of nine firearms.
“The 18 (rebels) who surrendered was a result of the comprehensive collaboration between AFP troops in the ground and stakeholders through NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict). Our focused military operation not only provided the sustained security envelope for the local community but also the impetus to implement and sustain various social and economic programs under the NTF-ELCAC,” AFP public affairs office chief Navy Capt. Jonathan Zata said.
So far, government troops have neutralized a total of 2,069 NPA members this year and seized 615 assorted firearms from the communist terrorist group.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom, European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)