By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday announced that it has neutralized a total of 43 communist rebels and other terrorist group members in operations from March 10 to 16.
The number includes 29 New People’s Army members, seven Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) terrorists and seven Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Jorry Baclor said in a statement.
Last March 11, three “communist NPA terrorists” (CNTs in military parlance) were killed during an encounter against joint elements of the 602nd Brigade, 90th Infantry Battalion, 34th Infantry Battalion, and police units in Pikit, North Cotabato.
On the same day, two NPA members were killed while a .45-caliber pistol was seized by operating elements of 6th Infantry Battalion and police operatives in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur.
“One CNT was captured with a caliber .45 pistol and hand grenade after an encounter with 50th Infantry Battalion in Balbalan, Kalinga, on March 13,” Baclor added,
On March 15, an NPA was killed in an encounter with 98IB in Balbalan, Kalinga, and another was captured by 2nd Infantry Division and police troops in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro.
Recovered from them were an M-16 rifle, an M-653 rifle, and three anti-personnel mines.
And on March 16, Baclor said an encounter with members of 3rd Special Forces Battalion in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, forced a NPA member to surrender with a 5.56mm R-4 Norinco carbine rifle with an M-203 grenade launcher, various ammunition, and war materiel.
Meanwhile, the 2nd Infantry Battalion and police operatives apprehended a NPA bomb expert and a member at Placer, Masbate, on March 10.
Seized from them were a caliber .45-caliber pistol, ten improvised hand grenades, and three anti-personnel mines.
“Also captured were two top-level CNTs in Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte, on March 11. Troops from the 29th Infantry Battalion and police operatives carried out the arrest warrant and seized .45 caliber Rock Island (pistol), 9mm caliber Taurus (pistol), illegal drugs, ammunition, and other war materials,” the AFP official said.
Meanwhile, the remaining NPA members voluntarily surrendered with various high-powered and low-powered firearms to government forces during the period.
“The units that facilitated the surrenders were 19IB, 4SRB, 3IB, and police units in Catubig, Northern Samar; 85IB in Lopez, Quezon; 56IB and 89IB in San Fernando, Bukidnon; 32IB in Indanan, Sulu; and 22IB and 903BDe with support of police units in Castilla, Sorsogon,” Baclor said.
In Basilan, an ASG member yielded to the 64th Infantry Battalion in Sumisip, Basilan on March 12 handing over one caliber .30 M-1 Garand rifle and one clip magazine with ammunition.
In Sulu, six ASG members surrendered to the 32nd Infantry Battalion in Patikul, Sulu, on March 15.
They handed over an M-16 Elisco rifle, M-1 Garand rifle, M-203 grenade launcher, carbine rifle, and M-16 rifle. From the BIFF, three officers and four members of the Karialan Faction returned to the folds of the law on March 15.
“The 6th Infantry Battalion facilitated the successful surrender in Datu Piang, Maguindanao del Sur. They also surrendered a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, two cal. 50 Sniper rifles, M-653 5.56mm rifle, Springfield caliber .30 rifle and two Garand rifles.
“The AFP’s momentum against different threat groups are expected to accelerate as field units intensify their focused-military operations, complimented by peace and development efforts in various parts of the country,” Baclor said. (PNA)