Bancasi, Butuan City – The CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs) have violated their own unilateral ceasefire after harassing and extorting from the residents of Brgy Cuyago Jabonga, Agusan del Norte resulting to a clash between the CNTs and troops of 29th Infantry (Matatag) Battalion under the operation control of 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade this morning, 11:20AM, April 13, 2020.
Elements of 29IB stationed at a nearby barangay while supporting the DOH, PNP and other government agencies in the implementation of the Community Quarantine for COVID 19 responded to a report from the residents of Brgy Cuyago that NPA members are harassing them and forcing them to give money or food items. The troops of 29IB, upon arrival at the reported location, were fired upon by the NPAs of GF16A believed to be under Samuel Batican @ ALBREN prompting the troops to engage the NPAs.
The initial firefight lasting for about five (5) minutes forcing the CNTs to scamper away in different directions. At around 11:35AM, the withdrawing CNTs were again encountered by troops of 29IB who responded and conducted blocking position in the same Barangay approximately three (3) kilometers from the National Highway. The troops recovered four (4) rolls of detonating cord (250 meters each).
It can be recalled that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared a Unilateral Ceasefire on March 19, 2020 so that the AFP and PNP can focus on implementing measures to help the concerned agencies and the LGUs prevent the spread of COVID 19. On March 28, 2020, the CNTs declared their own unilateral ceasefire allegedly after heeding the call of the UN for a worldwide ceasefire declaration and after implementing several attacks against the government forces.
However, despite their own ceasefire declaration, the CNTs continue their guerilla operations targeting our IP leaders and their former cadres who have gone back to the folds of the law in Surigao del Sur, recovery of their lost mass bases through coercion and intimidation and the expansion of their extortion and recruitment activities particularly in Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte. Truly, the declaration of a ceasefire for them is an opportunity to gain freedom of movement and exploit the COVID19 crisis for their own ends.
Brigadier General Maurito L Licudine, Commander of the 402nd Brigade, strongly condemns the lack of sincerity of the CNTs in their self-declared ceasefire as they continue the harassment of communities, extortion and recruitment activities while the people are already suffering from the COVID 19 pandemic. They are truly terrorists unmindful of the plight of the people and the country as long as they meet their ends by exploiting the situation to their advantage.
“We call on to all Caraganons to condemn these treacherous and terroristic acts against law abiding and unarmed civilians. We shall not let our guards down against these terrorists and constantly be on alert to pre-empt any evil plans that they are crafting in this time of crisis. Rest assured that your Army will be resolute in protecting the communities from these terrorist groups while combatting the COVID19 pandemic and Heal as One”, BGen Licudine ended.
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