Sans holiday truce, Army raises preparedness level vs NPA attacks
ILIGAN CITY—The northeastern Mindanao command of the Philippine Army has heightened preparedness for attacks by communist guerrillas during the Christmas holidays.
Maj. Gen. Andres Centino, 4th Infantry Division commander, said the unit was expecting New People’s Army (NPA) to launch attacks ahead of its 52nd anniversary on Dec. 26.
NPA, armed wing of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), said it was not observing a truce for the holidays after President Rodrigo Duterte declared there wouldn’t be any more ceasefire with communist guerrillas during his term.
Centino said, however, that the doors are open for the surrender of NPA fighters who would want to return to the folds of the law and live peaceful lives.
In Surigao del Sur, Brig. Gen. Allan Hambala, commander of the Army’s 401st Infantry Brigade, said there will be no letup in military operations in the absence of a Christmas truce.
“We spend our Christmas holiday differently in the hinterlands, fighting and running after the NPA,” said Hambala.
On Dec. 18, an NPA guerrilla was slain in an hour-long clash with soldiers at the village Magsaysay, Prosperidad town, Agusan del Sur province. The Army said soldiers captured a rebel camp during the clash.
Hambala said soldiers found four AK-47 rifles and an M-16 rifle after the clash between some 30 guerrillas and the 3rd Special Forces Battalion.
He said bloodstains left on the clash site and escape routes indicated the guerrillas suffered casualties.
Also found in the guerrilla camp were improvised explosives, ammunition, radio sets, backpacks with personal belongings, medical supplies, cellular phones and wires.
1Lt. Krisjuper Andre J. Punzalan, civil military operations chief of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, said the NPA camp was at least 200 square meters with tents and a kitchen.
Hambala said the NPA unit occupying the camp was responsible for the raid on a Coast Guard station in Barobo, Surigao del Sur in previous months.
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