Tuesday, April 21, 2020

More troops deployed to Sarangani to secure gov’t relief drive

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 21, 2020): More troops deployed to Sarangani to secure gov’t relief drive (By Richelyn Gubalani)

Additional troops have been deployed to the outskirt villages of Kiamba town, Sarangani province to secure the government relief operations for residents affected by the enhanced community quarantine.

1Lt. Efren James Halawig, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion (IB), said Tuesday they have launched “community support operations”
to counter the reported presence of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Barangay Gasi, Kiamba.

Halawig said the operations, which include close air support, were meant to prevent the rebels from taking advantage of the distribution of food packs and emergency cash assistance under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

He said the deployment was requested last Saturday by the municipal government of Kiamba.

“This is to ensure the unhampered distribution of the food and SAP assistance in the affected barangays,” Halawig said in an interview.

An official of Baragay Gasi, who was not named for security reasons, confirmed the presence of NPA rebels in their village, he said, adding that the combatants were reportedly planning to loot the food supplies being distributed among poor residents in the area.

Halawig said the presence of the rebels has prevented the concerned village official from visiting his farm in the past three months.

Lt. Col. Victorino Seño, 27IB commanding officer, assured that their operations would continue until the concerned communities are cleared of the presence of the NPA.

Seño said they would not allow a repeat of the incident in Samar province last April 7, where at least 30 combatants ransacked and carted away the relief stocks intended for poor residents.

“It is unfortunate that the communist terrorist group continue(s) to endanger the lives, properties, and livelihood of civilians by residing near the communities and extorting subsistence from them," he said in a statement.

Seño said the operations are legitimate and follow the rules of engagement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Development Support and Security Plan Kapayapaan.


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