In Bicol, a new pattern has emerged. Before the military and police have to scout for intelligence leads from reluctant sources to get to the location of the communist terrorists. Today, whistleblowing members of the community volunteer information to pinpoint enemy lairs, encampments or ongoing activities.
Maj. Gen. Henry Robinson Jr, commander of the Joint Task Force Bicolandia, said that the government’s peace effort has won the hearts and minds of the people and that the Bicol Army is thankful for the citizens growing support.
“The people are tired of violence.” Robinson clarified that “armed members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front have no way to go but to surrender now that they can easily be located, including the caches where they store the arms and munitions.”
“So, we are offering our left hand for those who are decided to embrace genuine peace and return to the fold of law. However, we will use our right hand—our operating troops, to look after those who insist on posing a threat to the lives and safety of the community” he added.
Another member of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) was killed in a firefight with government troops stemming from a tip-off at Barangay Hobo, Pasacao, Camarines Sur yesterday August 8.
In response to an information given by a concerned resident, the joint elements of the 49th Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Benjamin Tapnio and 9th Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Cleto R Lelina Jr with the support from the PNP encountered more or less seven communist NPA terrorists (CNT) at the said barangay.
The firefight lasted for about 15 minutes after which the CNTs withdrew towards the Northwest direction leaving their lifeless comrade. No casualty was reported on the government troops.
Col. Jaime A. Abawag Jr., Brigade Commander of the 902nd Brigade commended the troops and is grateful of the Bicolanos continuous cooperation in its fight to end the more than five-decade insurgency in the Region.
Just this year, several hideouts and caches were being seized by the government troops either during the conduct security operations or from a tip-off of the concerned citizens.
One of which was the seizure of war materials owned by the CTG in Napolidan, Lupi, Camarines Sur, comprising of an M16 rifle, two caliber .22 rifles, magazines, molotov bomb, bandoliers, backpack, assorted ammunition, cellphones, batteries, camouflage uniform of Philippine Army, medical paraphernalia and terroristic propaganda materials.
Last July 30, 96IB under the operational control of 902nd Brigade seized in an arms cache at Barangay Tanawan, Capalonga, Camarines Norte, one M14 Rifle, eight pieces M14 long magazines, 133 pieces of M14 ammunition, 18 pieces of shotgun ammunition, 25 pieces of .38 caliber ammunition, seven pieces of approximately 6 kilograms and 27 pieces of approximately 3.5 kilograms of anti-personnel mines, industrial wires approximately 700- meter long and detonating cord approximately 300-meter long and detonating cord approximately 300-meter long.
A lead provided by community members led to the discovery of ten (10) anti-personnel mines by the elements of the 22nd Infantry (Valor) Battalion in Barangay Calpi, Bulan, Sorsogon, Friday, August 6.
Lt. Col. Nelson Mico, Battalion Commander of the 22nd Infantry Battalion said “Ang pagkakadiskubre sa mga pampasabog na ito ay resulta ng pakikipagtulungan ng mga mamamayan sa mga sundalo para mawakasan na ang panggugulo ng mga teroristang grupo sa kanilang lugar. Dahil dito, napigilan natin ngayon ang kanilang masamang plano na maghasik ng takot at kaguluhan sa ating komunidad.”
The use of landmines and improvised explosive devices is a clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) which is punishable under Republic Act No. 9851 otherwise known as the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and other Crimes Against Humanity.
It can be remembered that last July 31, one communist NPA terrorist was killed while an M14 rifle and anti-personnel mines were seized from an armed clash between the government troops and Communist Terrorist Group in Barangay San Juan Daan, Bulan, Sorsogon.
Also, last August 3, the government troops received an information from the residents of Barangay Padre Diaz, Bulan, Sorsogon which resulted to an encounter and capture of several molotov bombs, 4 magazine of M14 rifle with ammunition, and a bandolier.
With its relentless fights against insurgency, combined elements of 2nd Infantry Battalion, 96 Mico, 91st DRC all of the 9th Infantry (Spear) Division, together with the 2nd PMFC and Placer Municipal Police Station captured several terrorist documents and equipment in an abandoned house at Barangay Sta Cruz, Placer, Masbate, Friday, August 6.
The government troops were able to capture one laptop, one hard drive, eight USB, eight old sim card, and terrorist documents.
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, Battalion Commander of 2nd Infantry Battalion said that prior to the capture of said items, the government troops saw a suspicious person who was fleeing after seeing the approaching troops.
“While the troops were on chase, said person went towards the direction of an abandoned house where the items were discovered. It was later found out that said house was the hideout of Rogelio Suson AKA Manong, a terrorist leader of Platoon 1, L2, KP4.” Awichen said. SOVEREIGNPH/AQP