By Mike U. Crismundo
CAMP DATU LIPUS MAKAPANDONG, Awa New Leyte, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur – Two Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) were killed while an undetermined number of other rebels were believed wounded when a gun battle erupted between government forces and communist insurgents in the hinterland areas of Kabulohan, Barangay Buhisan, in San Agustin town, Surigao del Sur.
Maj. Rodulfo S. Cordero, Jr., chief of Public Affairs Office (PAO) of the Army’s 401st Infantry (Unity) Brigade told The Manila Bulletin on Thursday that Brig. Gen. Andres C. Centino, commanding general of the 402nd “Unity” Brigade ordered the deployment of more troops to beef up the pursuing government troops in Kabulohan area. No one was reported hurt during the fierce gun battle last Thursday, January 24, in Kabulohan area, Cordero said.
Government troops seized an M14 rifle, anti-personnel mines, assorted live ammunitions, backpack, and subversive documents. The seized war materials were turned over to San Agustin Municipal Police Station (MPS), San Agustin town, Surigao del Sur province.
The cadavers were extricated only on Tuesday, January 29, as the operating troops were delayed by bad weather, difficult terrain, and continuous “Git-git” by the terrorists. Git-git is a tactic of the NPAs in deploying snipers posing as non-militants to inflict casualties on the troops when the opportunity arises in order to delay their movements. Several soldiers were already wounded because of this tactic, including the detonation of anti-personnel mines in the same vicinity in the hinterlands of San Agustin since the operation started in December 2018, Cordero said.
The cadavers of the two NPAs were turned over to their families and relatives on Wednesday, January 30.
Last Thursday, January 24, a platoon of soldiers under the 401st Brigade was fired upon by the rebels while conducting security operations in the hinterlands of Kabulohan, Barangay Buhisan in San Agustin town. The firefight lasted for several minutes after which the armed group scampered into different directions leaving behind their dead comrades.
According to Brig. Gen. Centino, the operations against the CNTs in the boundary of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur started in December last year following the abduction of 14 Cafgu Active Auxiliaries (CAA) and 2 Army soldiers in Barangay New Tubigon in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.
Centino said the CPP-NPAs took the CAAs and soldiers and used them as human shields. “The troops are going after the armed groups responsible for the abduction. As of today (January 31), our operating troops already figured in several encounters with the terrorists, seizing several enemy hideouts,” he said.
“We extend our condolences to the families of these two NPAs. We are once again saddened that lives were lost. But as members of the AFP, it is our duty to protect the greater majority by running after those who continue to sow fear among the people. We, therefore, enjoin everybody, especially our local officials to help us encourage those who are still inside the CPP-NPA organizations to abandon the armed struggle now and return to the folds of the law and heed the government’s call for peace,” Centino added.