By Mike Crismundo
CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – Two days before the 50th anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA), the military seized two rebel hideouts deep in the mountains of Agusan del Sur last Monday.
This was disclosed by Lt. Col. Francisco Molina Jr., commanding officer of the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battallion (23rd IB), on Tuesday as he also reported that his units seized in the abandoned hideouts several war materials, including radio communication facilities, rifle grenades and assorted live ammunitions.
“Our operating troops also seized foodstuffs including sacks of rice inside the two makeshift hideouts of the CPP-NPA terrorists in far-flung forested mountains in Esperanza town, Agusan del Sur province,” he said.
“An undetermined number of Communist insurgents immediately abandoned the two CPP-NPA hideouts after sensing that our patrolling troops were closing in on their position,” Molina bared.
He said his troops were still scouring the seized camps for other war materials left by the terrorists.
He said the enemy (CPP-NPA) hideouts were located after concerned villagers reported their location to the patrolling troops of the 23rd IB.
The fall of the two rebel camps came as a huge blow for the NPA, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary December 26.
“We are still tracking down the enemy route as of this time (Dec. 25) and we will not stop our operation even during the Christmas day and New Year’s day, per directive of our 4th Division commander Maj. Gen. Ronald C. Villanueva,” the 23rd IB commander added.
Chief Supt. Gilberto DC Cruz, regional director of the Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) late Monday afternoon ordered regional and provincial mobile force commanders to assist the pursuing troops of the 23rd IB by way of extending blocking positions along the possible escape route of the fleeing CPP-NPAs.
Meanwhile, combat maneuvering battallions of the 401st Infantry (Unity) Brigade are still pursuing “without let up” the hostage-takers of the two Army soldiers and 14 militiamen somewhere in the Diwata ranges in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur.
However, the command group of the 401st Brigade based in Camp Datu Lipus Makapandong in Agusan del Sur province could not disclose the exact location of the troops as tactical movement was still going on.
Air and ground assets of the AFP are already “on standby position” here for possible air cover and ground support to the pursuing combat maneuvering troops of the 401st Brigade in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur.