Communist rebel forces in the Zamboanga Peninsula have been significantly weakened, with the military claiming to have dismantled five guerrilla fronts of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the region.
Two provinces – Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Sur – were separately declared communist insurgency-free as a result, Brigadier General Leonel Nicolas, commander of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade, said on Sunday, August 1.
The provinces were declared insurgency-free by Zamboanga Sibugay Governor Wilter Palma and Zamboanga del Sur Governor Victor Tu.
Only two NPA guerrilla fronts remain in the Zamboanga Peninsula region, according to Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, the cabinet officer for the region’s development and security, said last week.
In the past, the province of Zamboanga Sibugay was the most problematic province when it came to the communist insurgency, but that changed when the 44th Infantry Battalion deployed more soldiers across the province from its base in Imelda town, Nicolas said.
Now, the military has turned its sights on Zamboanga del Norte where NPA rebels continued to operate.
On Friday, July 30, soldiers from the 97th Infantry Battalion clashed with NPA rebels for about 10 minutes in Sitio Kumangoy, Barangay Carupay, Katipunan town in Zamboanga del Norte.
There was no report on casualties, but Lieutenant Colonel Manaros Boransing, commander of the 97th IB, said it was the second fierce encounter between government and rebel forces in Zamboanga del Norte in 26 days.
Boransing referred to the July 4 clash between government troops and guerrillas that killed a rebel in Kauswagan, Sergio Osmeña Sr. town in Zamboanga del Norte.
Major General Gene Ponio, 1st Infantry Division commander, said the military would step up its operations to pressure and drive the remaining NPA groups out of the Zamboanga Peninsula.
“Five decades of armed struggle have not solved any of our problems. We all yearn for a peaceful country,” Ponio said. – Rappler.com