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AFP hunts NPA raiders in Mindoro using air, sea and ground patrols

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

LUCENA CITY, Philippines–A week after New People’s Army rebels attacked the police station in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro, government forces are still looking for the raiders using ground, air and sea patrols.

Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, head of the military’s Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), said a Navy gunboat has been patroling the seas off Mindoro in support of ground operations.

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He said attack and transport helicopters were also made available to support the ground operations.

“We want to constrict them,” Visaya said in a statement issued by the Solcom public information office on Friday.

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Visaya said the presence of the gunboat would deter the rebels from returning to mainland Mindoro or its nearby islands.

On Nov. 8, Lt. Col. Mario Africa was replaced by Lt. Col. Michael Licyayo as commander of the 67th Infantry Battalion based in Mindoro.

Maj. Angelo Guzman, Solcom spokesman, said the replacement was standard operating procedure after an “internal security operation-related incident” to preserve the Armed Forces’ tempo in the anti-insurgency operation.

Guzman added Solcom would also conduct an investigation into possible security lapses in Mindoro.

An estimated 50 rebels attacked the police station in Paluan in broad daylight on Nov. 7, killing a policeman and a soldier.

Paluan Mayor Carl Michael Pangilinan and his municipal administrator were taken hostage by the rebels and were used as human shields as they retreated. The two officials were freed at a river about three kilometers from the police station.

The Communist Party of the Philippines, in a statement, praised the NPA raiders belonging to the Lucio de Guzman Command based on Mindoro Island who carted away a total of 23 firearms: seven M14 rifles, 13 M16 rifles, a shotgun, two handguns, ammunition and other war material.

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“It was one of the biggest NPA tactical offensives this year in terms of the number of arms seized,” the CPP boasted.

The CPP said the seized weapons could arm a new platoon of NPA recruits in Mindoro.

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TAGS: Mindoro, New People's Army, NPA, Occidental Mindoro, Paluan
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