Monday, August 25, 2014

NPA presence in Western Mindanao steadily decreasing - AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 26): NPA presence in Western Mindanao steadily decreasing - AFP
The number of New People's Army (NPA) fighters and weapons still in action in Western Mindanao has been steadily decreasing, 1st Infantry Division commander Brig. Gen. Gerardo F. Barrientos announced.

“The numbers of NPA members in Western Mindanao and their firearms continue to decrease. NPA manpower in the said region was reduced by around 10 percent while their firearm was reduced by five percent," he said.

Barrientos attributed the decline to ongoing "Bayanihan" peace development efforts and the 1st Infantry Division's steady collaboration with local government units in Western Mindanao and Misamis Occidental on security concerns and its development implications.

Last Aug. 20, elements of the 53rd Infantry Battalion recovered two serviceable M-16 automatic rifles with magazines and ammunition in an arms cache located at the forested area in the tri-boundary of Zamboanga Del Sur, Zamboanga Del Norte and Misamis Occidental.

“The discovery of the arm cache was made possible thru timely information from the residents and former rebels who cooperated with the unit and revealed the general location where the main regional guerilla unit of the NPA kept their stash of weapons. Our former rebels who we had helped also corroborated the information which was fed to our troops on the ground resulting to the discovery of the arms cache," 53rd Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Alvin V. Luzon said.

“In addition to the two M-16 rifles, magazines and ammunition, the troops also recovered two handheld radios, two pairs of military uniforms and combat boots, medical paraphernalia, personal belongings and documents with high intelligence value. It goes to show that these items were left behind because the NPA lacks the manpower to bring it due to numerous surrenderees and the capture of their members," he added.

In earlier encounters, the NPA have used military and police uniforms to perform atrocities such as the raid of Municipal Police Stations of Tigbao in Zamboanga del Sur last 2012 and Don Victoriano Chiongbian in Misamis Occidental last 2013.

“I commend the troops involved in the discovery of arms cache. This is another result of the good rapport of our soldiers to the community. We facilitate the delivery of basic services such as medical services, low cost-high impact projects, information drives among others. In turn, the community itself abhor violence and denounce the presence of the NPA and its armaments. The community wants peace and development. Our soldiers will continue to protect the people to sustain the gains that we achieved," Barrientos said.

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