From the Mindanao Times (Jul 4): More soldiers off to Paquibato
The 10th Infantry Division will deploy more troops to Paquibato District even after a guerilla unit was disbanded and absorbed into the Pulang Bagani Command 1 under Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago. Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, the division’s commanding general, said they will be sending another company to reinforce the 69th Infantry Battalion, which covers Paquibato and some parts of Davao del Norte. A company consists of around 100 soldiers.
Military reports revealed that some rebels of Front Committee 52 have now joined the ranks of PBC 1 in the hinterlands of Paquibato.
Bernardo said in an interview in Camp Catitipan last Friday that they are doing massive clearing and security operations in Paquibato area. However, he said that there’s no significant increase in the members of the rebel group operating in the area.
“In fact, they are importing other personalities from other provinces as far as Samar,” he added.
Lt. Col. Inocencio Pasaporte, 69th Infantry Battalion, said earlier that the FC 52 covers several barangays in Panabo, Paquibato District, Sto. Tomas and Carmen in Davao del Norte.
“It was declared by the higher headquarters that Front Committee 52 no longer exists. Reports on the ground have validated these reports,” he added.
A typical front committee unit is composed of around 30 to 40 members, depending on the area coverage.
He said that they are not letting their guards down and are still on high-alert for any possible atrocities committed by the New People’s Army.
Col. Buenaventura Pascual, 1003rd brigade commander, also said in an interview that the front committee was no longer active since the third quarter of last year.
He added that a few rebels went to the hinterlands of Paquibato, particularly in Lumiad, Mapula, Barangay Paquibato and Paradise Embak, which are considered as rebel strongholds.
The city police chief, Sr. Supt. Ronald M. dela Rosa, said it is possible that the NPA is empowering its other forces if a front committee was dismantled. “Somehow, it is restructuring on their part,” he added.
“I don’t know what’s the assessment of the army. If is true, it means there is a setback on their operational capabilities,” dela Rosa said earlier in an interview.
The city director sees this as a tactical retreat made by the communist rebels. “We have to wait and see. Paquibato is Paquibato,” he added.