From the Manila Bulletin (May 27): AFP: We’re winning war against NPA in Mindanao
Cagayan De Oro City – The government is winning the war against communist insurgents in Northeastern and Northern Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) declared yesterday.
“Clearing all communist fronts, winning the hearts and minds, and our peace and development programs have given the government the upper hand against communist insurgents,” said regional Army spokesman Maj. Leo Bongosia of the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID).
“Their (NPA’s) terroristic activities also made rural folks support our peace and development programs on the ground,” Bongosia said.
Since April 26 this year, the Army has recovered eight high-powered and eight other firearms from the insurgents in 26 government-initiated encounters, Bongosia said.
In two separate encounters in Surigao del Norte and Bukidnon, two government soldier died, four NPA rebels were killed, and four former rebels in Agusan del Sur surrendered with firearms, he said.
Together with the firearms recovered were rounds of ammunition; including 825 rounds for M16; 670 rounds for M14; 1,531 rounds for AK47; 90 rounds for Carbine; 15 rounds for Cal. 45, and 10 hand grenades, he said.
Since January this year, the military has killed 11 NPA rebels, recovered 20 high-powered firearms and 22 low-powered-firearms, while 29 NPA rebels surrendered, Bongosia said.
“These favorable results were owed to our dedicated troops and our relentless combat operations in maintaining peace and security in the region especially during the recently concluded May elections,” he said.
“Under the spirit of “Bayanihan,” the 4th ID has its door wide-open for those who want to surrender their arms, leave the struggle, and live peacefully with their families and friends without fear and intimidation,” Bongosia added.
M16, M14 and other assault firearms were used by these lawless land grabbers in indiscriminately firing at the Moro farmers. These attackers were holding ground at lot 158 which is also owned by the Moros but they had developed as their camp after grabbing it by force.
Fierce gun battle ensued as relatives of the Moro farmers with the 109th Base Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) – MILF came to help.
The land grabbers were driven away from their position at Lot 158 which is called as “Bako Bako” during the skirmish that lasted until 11am yesterday.
“We have to help our relatives Moro farmers that had been attacked while farming,” a contact from the 109th Base Command said.
“We hope that they will not attack again,” he added.
In the early 1980s and 1990s, the Moros were peacefully living and farming in their lands at Columbio but in the late 1990s until 2007, the paramilitaries, armed civilian volunteers organization and private armed groups identified with the barangay chairmen launched a systematic coupled with the use of force to drive out the Moros and illegally grabbed their lands.
As the Moros were driven out of their lands, the land grabbers then plant these lands with Bananas, said the contact from the 109th Base Command.
Several initiatives had been undertaken by formal and informal authorities but these lawless land grabbers had not been cooperating instead have continued in grabbing and harassing the Moros.
This morning tension grip again the areas of Elbebe as the armed lawless land grabbers start firing again against the Moros and their relatives with the MILF.
Lamenting the occurrence of this incident and voicing their appeal to the concerned authorities to pursue peaceful resolution of the problem, the contact from the 109th Base command said they maintain defensive posture but will be force to fight back when attacked.