Army’s 33IB braces for possible NPA attacks

By Edwin Fernandez

December 23, 2018, 5:24 pm

LIVE FIRE EXERCISE. Troopers from the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion in Sultan Kudarat province practice shooting ahead of possible attacks by communist rebels in time for the Communist Party of the Philippines' 50th founding anniversary on Dec. 26. (Photo courtesy of 33rd IB)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- The Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion has prepared its units in Sultan Kudarat province against possible attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) ahead of the Communist Party of the Philippines' (CPP) 50th founding anniversary on Dec. 26.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the 33rd IB, on Saturday said soldiers have stepped up their preparations for a sustained counter-insurgency campaign against the NPAs, who have threatened to attack members of the security forces, coinciding with the CPP’s forthcoming anniversary.

Cabunoc led the on-site live firing activities for the troops, who are currently deployed in far-flung villages in the Upper Valley of Sultan Kudarat, where the NPAs have a strong presence.

“Our troops are ready to face the enemy in gun battles anytime. Aside from having the support of the people, our soldiers are also adequately trained and equipped to fight in this longest-running communist insurgency in Asia,” Cabunoc said in a statement.

Cabunoc made the statement in response to threats coming from Jose Maria Sison, who recently ordered the NPAs to launch "tactical offensives" against government troops.

The training activities conducted included live-fire exercises for M14 rifles, M203 grenade launchers, M60 light machineguns, M50 heavy machineguns, and sniper rifles.

Capt. Winston Cacatian, commanding officer of the 33rd IB’s Charlie Company, said his troops are now ready to fight. “We are conducting this training to build your confidence in fighting any armed threat against peaceful communities in our area of jurisdiction,” Cacatian told a group of militiamen, who are deployed in Laquicon village, a hinterland community of Bagumbayan town.

John Paul Gunong, 23, a member of the Army’s Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit in Laquicon, was among the trainees who participated in the live fire exercises. “I am thankful because I was given the opportunity to fire my issued M14 rifle. I have learned how to adjust my weapon based on the range of the enemy’s position,” Gunong said.

Capt. Alessandro Cruzada, commanding officer of 33rd IB’s Alpha Company, said his troops have gained more confidence in repulsing armed attacks by the communists. “We train as we fight. We allocated training ammunition for live fire exercises in order to simulate realistic combat scenarios,” said Cruzada, who personally supervised the training in Midtungok village, Senator Ninoy Aquino town.

The 33rd IB has deployed additional forces to launch security patrols to confront enemy aggressors, who will celebrate the underground CPP's 50th anniversary on Wednesday. (PNA)