CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) said the remaining combatants of the New People's Army (NPA) in Bukidnon province have moved to the borders of Lanao del Sur.

In a statement Saturday, Lt. Gen. Greg T. Almerol, Eastmincom commander, said they noticed the movement after members of the rebel group figured in an encounter with Army soldiers in the towns of Amai Manabilang, Lumba-Bayabao, and Maguing, all in Lanao del Sur.

The skirmish came after concerned citizens reported the presence of some 30 armed men to the troops on January 20, under the 403rd Brigade's 1st Special Forces Battalion (1SFBn), who have been pursuing the remnants of North Central Mindanao Regional Committee’s (NCMRC) Sub-Regional Committee 4 (SRC4) and SRC5 in the area.

"These clashes send a strong manifestation that the people are already fed up with the CTG's (communist terrorist group) continued atrocities in their communities, therefore making them more participative in the military's campaign to end the communist insurgency by reporting suspicious armed groups and activities," he said.

The two-hour firefight resulted in the seizure of five high-powered firearms composed of two M16 rifles, an M653 rifle, an M14 rifle, an AK-47 rifle, assorted magazines for M16, M14, and AK-47, five linked of ammunitions for M60 GPMG, 208 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, three bandoliers, four cellphones, assorted medical supplies and paraphernalia, backpacks with personal belongings, subversive documents, and food supplies.

No casualty was reported after the clash but troops found heavy bloodstains along the withdrawal route of the evading terrorists.

Troops of the 403rd Brigade are already conducting hot pursuit operations against the fleeing CTG and have already coordinated with other adjacent military units.

Earlier, the troops under 1SFBn also encountered the same group on Jan. 8, 2022, which resulted in the death of alias Rasty, also known as Ade or Hansel, the Political Officer/Team Leader of Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabidad (SRSDG) Crackers Company of SRC5, NCMRC, and the seizure of an M60 GPMG, an M4 rifle, M16 rifle, M14 rifle, an M1 Garand rifle, and other war materiel.

Almirola said the NPA rebels in Bukidnon have been running away from the government forces toward unfamiliar terrain such as in Lanao del Sur as communities in their former mass bases have already declared them persona-non-grata.

"Although their remnants are still on the run, lack of familiarity in the new terrain and support from communities made them easier to be pursued and engaged by our troops," he said.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the National Democratic Front as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)