CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur-The relentless conduct of extensive security operations of the Army together with the PNP in Bicol continues to soar positive results, fueled by tip-offs by local residents who have considered them as persona-non-grata.
In an armed encounter around 6:05pm last April 20 in Sitio Valleyfarm, Barangay Tigbao, Milagros, Masbate, government troops recovered two M16 rifles, two bandoliers, 12 magazines, ammunition and personal belongings, obviously abandoned by ten communist NPA terrorists after only a few minutes of firefight.
No one was harmed on the government side.
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, Commanding Officer of 2IB thanked once again the local populace for the prompt report, thereby preventing the CTG from carrying out its ill motives in the communities.
On the other hand, the newly installed Brigade Commander of the 903rd Infantry Brigade, Col. Aldwine Almase called on the CNTs to withdraw their membership and support from the CPP-NPA-NDF and just return to the fold of the law.
“Magbalik-loob na kayo! When you harm the innocent civilians and terrorize their communities, we will fight back. But when you choose to abandon the CTG, our arms are wide-open to welcome you back,” Almase said.
In Masbate, it is becoming apparent that the government has been won the hearts minds of the people. Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) commander MajGen Henry Robinson Jr PA is confident that communist insurgency can no longer gain its ground in Masbate.
“The snowball of surrenderees and the growing support of the local populace in Masbate are the fruits of our unyielding efforts to eradicate the communist insurgency. Wala ng puwang ang CTG sa lipunang ito lalo na sa puso ng mga Bicolano na ayaw ng magpalinlang pa sa walang saysay na ideolohiya ng teroristang grupong ito. Matagal na kayong talo sa labang ito, ayaw n’yo lang tanggapin that is why all you can do are desperate retaliations and treacherous attacks,” Robinson declared.
Same pattern in Albay
Last April 21, government troops discovered an arms cache belonging to the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) in the hinterlands of Barangay San Antonio, Oas, Albay around 3 o’clock in the morning. Included are caliber 5.56 bushmaster rifle, caliber 5.56 Colt AR-15 rifle, eight magazines, 187 rounds of ammunition, bandolier and terrorist propaganda materials.
Again, concerned citizens reported to the 9th Infantry Division’s 49th Infantry Battalion (49IB) about the suspicious things left by the CTG members in Sitio Tinahuban that turned out to be arms and munitions.
Lt. Col. Benjamin Tapnio, Commanding Officer of 49IB said that with the discovery and capture of the said firearms and propaganda materials, violence and recruitment schemes of the CTG will be prevented.
“Nagpapasalamat kami sa mga residenteng tumulong at nakipag-ugnayan sa atin. Kung hindi natin ito nakuha, gagamitin na naman ito ng mga komunistang terorista laban sa tropa ng gobyerno at sa mga inosenteng sibilyan,” Tapnio said.
Meanwhile, Col. Jaime Abawag Jr., Brigade Commander of the 902nd Infantry Brigade directed the troops to continue scouring the area as the presence of the arms cache is an indication that communist NPA terrorists (CNTs) are up to something. MajGen Henry Robinson seconded Abawag’s warning.
“Hindi pa nga isang araw, may score na naman tayo. Isali pa natin ‘yong nasamsam na kilo-kilong anti-personnel mines at nadiskubre nating illegal mining site na kinukontrol ng CTG sa Lagonoy.
“With these losses, the CTG will surely retaliate in a desperate manner to cover-up their waning capability. That is why we are implementing stringent security measures all over Bicol to thwart any possible terroristic acts of this communist insurgents,” Robinson said.
“The handwriting is on the wall” added the JTF Bicolandia commander.
It can be recalled that for the past months, series of peace and indignation rallies were held in Masbate to denounce the atrocities of the CTG along with the rising number of Barangays declaring the terrorist group as persona non-grata. In February, four high powered firearms were also captured from the successful military engagement in Mobo town.
With this pattern, the JTF Bicolandia is positive that the CTG will eventually collapse in the island province and soon in the whole Bicolandia.