Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Army to Samar residents: Be brave in fight vs. rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14, 2019): Army to Samar residents: Be brave in fight vs. rebels

SOLDIERS' READINESS. Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso III, commander of the Army's 8th Infantry Division, checks the readiness of soldiers during a visit at the camp of the 20th Infantry Battalion based in Northern Samar. Diñoso on Wednesday (August 14, 2019) asked the people of Samar to revive the spirit of bravery as they join the government to end the insurgency problem. (Photo courtesy of the 20th Infantry Battalion)

A top official of the Philippine Army on Wednesday asked residents of Samar province to find inspiration from past victories against invaders as they join the campaign to wipe out armed rebellion in their areas.

Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso III, commander of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, Samar, said people in the province should revive the spirit of bravery as they join the government to end the insurgency problem.

The people of Samar had shown their bravery in the Balangiga Encounter, the Siege of Catubig, the Japanese invasion in the country, and resiliency after devastations of natural calamities, among others.

“The rich cultural and natural heritage is the source of pride and identity of people in Samar in which they can be proud of. We hope that people will demonstrate unity and resilience as they come together to end local armed conflict in the province,” he told reporters in an interview here.

The Balangiga Encounter on Sept. 28, 1901, was staged by residents, led by Valeriano Abanador, who initiated an attack against US soldiers.

The villagers killed 54 American soldiers using "bolos". It was the biggest defeat of foreign troops during the Philippine-American war.

Similarly, the Siege of Catubig was a four-day engagement in Northern Samar during the Philippine-American War in 1900, when local fighters launched a surprise attack against a detachment of the American military, forcing foreign invaders to abandon the town after a four-day siege.

To achieve lasting peace, cooperation from locals is very crucial to ensure that the rebel group’s influence will be inconsequential, said Diñoso.

The military official recalled that three months before he assumed as the 8th Infantry Division commander, six soldiers were killed and six others were wounded in a gun battle in Calbiga town.

Samar Island is considered as one of the strongholds of armed rebels due to the densely forested mountainous areas, high poverty incidence, and issue of widespread landlessness, based on a 2013 study of William Norman Holden of the University of Calgary in Canada.

The NPA launched its first tactical operation in the country in Calbiga, Samar in 1974, when its members ambushed an Army scout patrol and seized a number of weapons.

In 1976, the NPA gained popular support among the inhabitants of Samar following its actions against cattle rustling gangs.

The NPA, which has been engaged in a five-decade armed struggle, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

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