BUTUAN CITY – A top official of the Army has ordered government troopers to pursue the remaining members of Guerrilla Front (GF) 4A of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) operating in the provinces of Agusan del Norte and parts of Misamis Oriental.
Brig. Gen. Maurito L. Licudine, commander of 402nd Infantry Brigade (402nd IBde), told the Philippine News Agency Sunday that GF-4A suffered a number of casualties in recent armed confrontations against government troopers, particularly the 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB).
“GF-4A suffered heavy loss as a number of their combatants were killed after the series of armed encounters last May 10 this year that was followed by a number of skirmishes when we launched pursuit operations,” Licudine said.
More than 15 NPA rebels were killed in a clash last May 10 in the boundary of Agusan del Norte and Misamis Oriental.
The remains of the 10 NPA combatants killed during that encounter were recovered by the Army and were buried in Gingoog City while five dead bodies were also discovered during the pursuit operations.
Licudine said GF-4A combatants, including Militia ng Bayan embers, surrendered to the 23IB and the Philippine National Police (PNP) after the May 10 encounter.
“We will not only finish the remaining combatants of GF-4A, but the Army will also work to clear the remaining barangays in the area from the influence of the NPA,” Licudine said.
Licudine visited the headquarters of 23IB in Barangay Alubihid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte on Saturday (June 27) and presided over a conference with the top officials of the battalion.
1Lt. Roel T. Maglalang, civil-military operation (CMO) officer of the 23IB said Sunday Licudine’s visit is first since their new commander, Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, assumed post to lead the battalion last month.
“The visit of Gen. Licudine is a big boost to the men and women of 23IB especially in pursuing its mission to completely dismantle GF-4A,” Maglalang said.
The 23IB relinquished its areas of operations (AORs) in the province of Agusan del Sur and now covers the western part of Butuan City, the towns of Carmen, Nasipit, Buenavista and Las Nieves in Agusan del Norte, and the town of Magsaysay and the seven villages in the eastern portion of Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental.
“We have a self-imposed deadline in dismantling GF-4A this third quarter of 2020. The deadline is made and will serve as urgency on the efforts of the unit to pursue this mission,” Licudine said.
He also expressed gratitude to the continuing support of the people in the area to the efforts of the 23IB that resulted in successful military operations.
Last June 23, civilians in a remote area in Agusan del Sur tipped off 23IB troopers of the hideout where bomb-making materials and ammunition were hidden by the NPA.
Government troopers were able to seize 11 containers of ammonium nitrate, a substance the NPA use in making anti-personnel mines (APMs) and 205 rounds 7.62 mm balls for M-14 rifle ammunition.
Licudine also urged the remaining members of GF-4A to surrender and return to their families and communities.
He said the remaining NPA combatants in the area still have the time to leave the communist movement and avail of the programs being offered by the government.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (PNA)