BUTUAN CITY – The Army’s 65th Infantry Battalion (65IB) has recognized the vital support of civilians in military operations in the hinterlands of Sibagat, Agusan del Sur and in remote areas here.
In a press statement issued on Tuesday, 65IB commander, Lt. Col. Emerson de Vera, said they have engaged the New People’s Army (NPA) in four armed encounters this month.
“The series of encounters are the results of the persistent reports from the residents in the area who are being terrorized by the communist NPA terrorists,” De Vera stated.
On Aug. 8, the 65IB troopers were dispatched to the boundary of Barangay Anticala here and Barangay Kulambogan in Sibagat after civilians reported the presence of NPA insurgents.
The rebels, belonging to the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda 21C (SYP-21C) of Guerilla Front (GF) 21, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC), immediately withdrew after they encountered the responding Army troopers.
A pursuit operation led to a second encounter with the same group near the boundary of this city and Sibagat town on Aug. 12.
The 65IB troopers continued their operations that resulted to two more armed clashes with SYP-21C the following day near the same area against the Sentro de Grabidad Westland of NEMRC and in Barangay Villangit.
Government troopers recovered seven mobile phones and computer tablets, 17 backpacks with personal belongings, two steel magazines for AK-47, one jungle hammock, one portable radio, assorted medical supplies, dental tool kit, and subversive documents.
The 65IB has yet to determine the number of NPA casualties or injuries but no one was hurt from the government side.
“The 65IB troopers will continue its military operations in the area to fulfill its mandate of protecting the people against the senseless harassments and spates of terrorism that gravely affect the lives of innocent civilians,” De Vera said.
He also called on the NPA rebels in Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, and in this city to surrender and live peacefully.
"Various benefits are enhanced to support you and your families especially when you cooperate with the government and lay down your firearms,” De Vera said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the Philippines, United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (PNA)