Driven by high morale following the massive support of the Bicol communities following the heroic sacrifice of the lives of cousins Kieth and Nolven Absalon in Masbate City last June 6, the Bicol Army and its police counterparts continue a series of successes never before seen in the battlefront.
Last July 2, another 16 surrenderers in Masbate followed the whopping 505 CTG members and supporters who turned themselves in just eleven days from June 18-28.
In the battlefront in Daraga, Albay, another communist NPA terrorist (CNT) threw his life away for a useless cause after an armed skirmish in Daraga, Albay last July 16.
The encounter stemmed from a report of a concerned citizen who spotted an undetermined number of CNTs in Barangay Canarom who were trying to recruit new members including minors.
Combined elements from 31st Infantry Battalion (31IB), 93rd Division Reconnaissance Company (93DRC) under the operational control of 903rd Infantry Brigade and 2nd Albay Provincial Mobile Force Company (2PMFC), Albay Police Provincial Office of Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5) swooped down on at least ten CTG members.
After a fierce gunfight, government troops overran the enemies’ hideout causing the communist terrorists to scampered towards different directions leaving one of their dead members behind.
Also seized from the encounter site were two M16 rifles, three anti-personnel mines, two molotov bombs, M16 magazines and ammunitions, 14-meter wire, bandolier, two laptops, five cellphones, personal belongings and terroristic propaganda materials.
Lt. Col. Eric Culvera, Battalion Commander of 31IB ordered his troops to continue scouring the area to prevent the fleeing CNTs from forcibly taking shelter in the residences of innocent civilians.
“Sa mga taga Daraga, naririyan po ang ating mga kasundaluhan upang tiyakin ang inyong seguridad. Hindi natin hahayaang bulabugin kayo ng mga teroristang ito,” Culvera said.
Set on a mission to ultimately negate communist insurgency in Masbate, security forces have been pressing to fight against Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) with positive results.
Earlier last July 13, an armed skirmish broke out between the operating troops from 91st Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) under the operational control of 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) and communist NPA terrorists (CNTs) in Barangay Cadulawan, Cataingan.
After the encounter, an M16 rifle and anti-personnel mine were seized from the fleeing terrorists.
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, Battalion Commander of 2IB, said that as the number of CTG members and supporters surrendering to the government continues to snowball, government troops are even more determined to sustain the momentum by scouring every corner of the island province where communist insurgents are trying to hide.
MGen Henry Robinson Jr PA, commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) Bicolandia recognized the all-out support of the Masbateños to the anti-insurgency campaign which resulted in the string of accomplishments in the island province. He commended troops on the ground including the PNP which, just last July 12, also encountered the CTG in Barangay Dapdap, Uson town that killed one CTG member and seized one M16 rifle.
“The anger of Masbateños in the CTG’s violence against civilians in Masbate was converted into an overwhelming support to our thrust to finally end the insurgency. Hindi natin sasayangin ang suporta at tiwalang ito na ibinibigay nila sa atin kaya sa mga CTG members, asahan ninyong kung hindi kayo susuko, hahanapin kayo ng mga sundalo at pulis kahit saan man kayo magtago. Robinson added.
Momentum of Surrenders
In Barangay Balete, Aroroy, Masbate another five regular NPA members yielded to the Army and PNP last July 6, bringing with them one high-powered and two low-powered firearms as well as six anti-personnel mines.
Col. Aldwine Almase, Brigade Commander of 903rd Infantry Brigade, on the other hand, said that while the surrenderers continues to surge, stringent measures are being implemented by security forces in Masbate to prevent the CTG from recruiting and deceiving new members.
Joint Task Force Bicolandia Commander Robinson noticed that the Absalon incident also inspired improved delivery of basic services and promotion of good governance in communities to insulate the local populace from communist infiltration.
“The reason why the CTG will never win this fight is because the issues that they usually exploit to discredit the government are now being addressed through the localized implementation of the Whole-of-Nation Approach. Services and development projects are brought to the communities including those in far-flung and vulnerable areas,” he said.
“The message is clear: Join or die,” quipped Robinson, quoting a line from the history interpreted as the only two options left for the rebels have been narrowed down first. to fight and die or get arrested and go to jail; or second, surrender yourself and your weapons and join the Balik-Loob Program and be reintegrated into a new beginning back to normative society.
What merely began with a number of barangays and municipalities declaring the communist terrorists as persona non-grata has now grown into a massive province-wide indignation against the CPP-NPA-NDF groups, with ordinary folks telling on identities, locations and movements of the insurgents. SPH/AQP