By Mike U. Crismundo
Camp Bancasi, Butuan City – Two more Army battalions are needed to crush the remaining New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Surigao and Agusan provinces.
This was disclosed by the newly promoted commanding general of the 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade Brig. Gen. Franco NemesioGacal who said that the remaining NPAs in these provinces have been harassing residents of far-flung and remote communities, and some rural businessmen.
Considering the terrain in the hinterlands which was typical for guerilla warfare, Gacal suggested to the higher command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to deploy two more battallions for the Surigao and Agusan provinces.
Gacal said he was being joined by local officials in asking for the additional troops to completely eradicate the insurgency problem in some parts of the region.
“These remaining NPAs who already turned to banditry are enforcing their force taxation to our far-flung villagers and rural businesses and this must be stopped at all cost,” Gacal pointed out.
He cited the recent burning of several multi-million pesos worth of heavy equipment that belonged to a contractor in a quarry site in Bonbon area here.
He said this was perpetrated by the NPA because the contractor did not want to give in to the rebels’ extortion attempt.
On Monday, a series of gunbattles took place between troops of the 23rd Infantry Battallion and 30 NPA members in far-flung areas of Barangay Nongnong.
The troopers were backed up by gunship helicopters of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) strike wing which provided air cover.
A day earlier, there was also an encounter in Barangay Balit, San Luis, Agusan Del Sur where two insurgents were killed, Col. Mel Pagayu, 26th IB commander said.
He added that his operating troops seized from the encounter site an AK-47 rifle with live ammunition, and improvised explosive devices.