Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino has instructed on Thursday Army commanders in Negros Island to intensify operations against the communist New People’s Army “without letup”.
This came as Centino lauded the Philippine Army in Negros Island for the series of encounters this past weekend that dealt a big blow to the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA.
During his visit to the headquarters of the Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion in Isabela town, Negros Occidental, General Centino awarded medals to to troopers who figured in the recent twin encounters in central Negros.
On May 20, five NPA rebels were killed in a clash in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, and four others died in pursuit operations the following day in barangay Trinidad, Guihulngan City.
On May 21, another NPA combatant was also killed in a clash against the Army’s 15 IB in Cauayan, Negros Occidental.
In his message, Centino told battalion commanders on the Island to conduct “relentless combat operations” against the remaining NPA rebels in Negros.
“I am reminding our soldiers that we should have that sense of urgency now that the enemy has weakened. They are now lacking in resources, losing their mass base, and they no longer have their leaders,” he said.
Following a closed-door meeting with the Army commanders, Centino told reporters that he directed the troops to “end the insurgency in Negros at the soonest possible time”.
“We don’t have to count the numbers, but what is important is that we have addressed the problem here in Negros, as we still have remaining insurgents who continue to fight the government,” Centino said.
The AFP Chief was presented with a cache of various firearms, ammunition, improvised explosive devices, and subversive documents recovered during the encounters.
He said President Marcos has “given instructions to slowly transition to a more pressing concern, which is addressing the security problem of external defense”.
Centino said this can only be achieved if the internal security problem in the country has been addressed.
According to him, the insurgency problem in the country is weakening, with only two active NPA fronts still intact and maintaining mass base support.
These active fronts are in Samar province, he said.
It was earlier reported that four fighters of the Central Negros 1 Front of the NPA were killed in an encounter with government troopers in Guihulngan on Sunday.
Lt. Col. William Pesase, the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion commanding officer, told the media in an interview that the four were among the heavily-armed rebels who clashed with his men in Sitio Cambawgon, barangay Trinidad before daybreak.
A cache of high-powered firearms, short arms, and other war materials were likewise recovered by Army troops.
One NPA member surrendered to authorities.
Local police, Scene of Crime Operatives, City Disaster Risk-Reduction & -Management Office personnel, and soldiers were on the way to retrieve the cadavers of the rebels as of press time.
No other details were made available due to poor network connectivity. (Judy F. Partlow/PNA)