ENDANGERING CIVILIANS. Some of the anti-personnel mines used by communist rebels that government troops managed to recover in Surigao del Norte recently. The Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion denounced the communist New People’s Army on Tuesday for its continued use of landmines, which endanger the lives of civilians. (Photo courtesy of 30IB)

BUTUAN CITY – A top military official in Surigao del Norte has expressed alarm over the continued use of anti-personnel mines (APMs) by the communists New People’s Army (NPA).

Lt. Col. Jeffrey A Villarosa, commander of the Army's 30th Infantry Battalion (30IB), said the recent recovery of APMs in a remote barangay in Surigao del Norte only proves the continuing use of APMs by the rebels.

Villarosa reiterated that APMs pose danger to the lives of residents in the area.

Government troops recovered two APMs last Sunday following an encounter with NPA rebels in Barangay Camam-onan, Guigaquit, Surigao del Norte.

“We received reports from concerned citizens that CNTs (Communist NPA Terrorists) were conducting extortion and recruitment activities in their community,” Villarosa said.

Aside from the APMs, government soldiers also recovered bomb-making materials, ammunition, and subversive documents.

Villarosa said the Army also managed to overrun the NPA hideout during the encounter.

He said the "strong resistance" of the villagers against the NPA has helped the military's continuing drive to end the communist armed conflicts in Surigao del Norte.

“I commend the boldness of concerned citizens for timely sending us information that led to this encounter. It is just sad to note that in the midst of our efforts in making our communities free from the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid19), the CNTs continue to pursue their selfish agenda by forcing the civilians to gather to listen to their propaganda," Villarosa said.

He also condemned the continued use of APM by the NPA, saying the use of this war materiel is contrary to the provisions of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

“We will continue to hunt the CNTs wherever they are. We will continue to protect each and every peace-loving civilian in all of Surigao del Norte and the Province of Dinagat Islands,” Villarosa said.

1Lt. Wilfredo F. Quilang, 30IB civil-military operations officer, said a total of eight APMs have been recovered in Surigao del Norte from January 1 to April 22 this year.

“Last January 17 this year, the NPA rebels detonated an APM near a build-up area in Barangay Ladgaron, Claver, Surigao del Norte,” Quilang told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview Wednesday.

Last year, Quilang said a total of 18 APMs were recovered by government troops in the province.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)