By Antonio Manaytay
IPIL, PHILIPPINES – Reports that the killings in Negros Island may spill over to Zamboanga del Norte is a diversionary tactic to ease the pressure of government security forces on the New People’s Army (NPA), an Army official here said.
While admitting that the NPA may create a scenario in Zamboanga del Norte, a province in Mindanao facing the Negros Island and three hours away by boat, Lt. Col. Rufino de Leon, commanding officer of the Army’s 97th Infantry Battalion, said the possibility is “very low.”
The NPA, he said, could sow violence in the province against government forces and public officials as a diversionary tactics to lessen the pressure against communist rebels in Negros Island.
There were reports, the Army officer admitted, but “our intelligence said the chances are very low.”
The Army officer, who is set to head the 5th Cadre Battalion based in Piñan, Zamboanga del Norte, said they are verifying the reports of the presence of small groups of NPA fighters popularly known as Sparrow Units.
De Leon said government forces are “ready for them.”
He said there are about 100 NPA fighters scattered in the three different fighting units, namely: Second Big Beautiful Country, Second Feliciano Alpha, and Second Feliciano Bravo.
De Leon revealed that the communist rebels operate around these areas, adding that “they rotate between Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, and Zamboanga del Sur.”
There are government troops stationed in the coastal areas in case the NPA fighters from Negros Island will escape by boat to Zamboanga del Norte, he said.