Military hunts 19 remaining NPAs in Zamboanga Peninsula
PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur — The Army has assured mountain resort operators in Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental of their safety amid recent encounters with communist rebels in the area.
Lt. Col. Nolasco Coderos Jr., commander of the Army’s 97th Infantry Battalion, said the armed encounters in the last few days in Sergio Osmeña and Piñan towns were due to the New People’s Army guerrillas being constricted by intensified military operations, and not due to a harassment operation.
Coderos explained that the rebels were running away from their lairs in Misamis Occidental’s side of the sprawling Malindang mountain range and had strayed into Piñan and Osmeña towns.
This gave his soldiers the opportunity to chase after the rebels who then engaged in a firefight in a bid to buy time for an escape.
Lt. Col. Jose Andre Monje, commander of the 10th Infantry Battalion operating in Misamis Occidental, said they have counted 12 remaining rebels in the province, indicating their radically weakening state.
Over at Zamboanga del Norte, Coderos said only seven rebels are trying to maintain holdouts there.
The boundaries of the two provinces host what remains of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said Coderos.
The reduction of rebel presence in the area has given rise to eco-tourism destinations around Mt. Malindang.
Lawyer Orlando Salatandre, president of the Mt. Malindang Tourism Federation, expressed gratitude to the efforts of the military in ensuring the safety of the tourism destinations, saying their continued operation creates jobs and other economic opportunities in the communities, hence helping address poverty.