By MASIDING NOOR YAHYA
ILIGAN CITY: The operating battalions of 102 Infantry Brigade have engaged in a series of armed encounters with the Communist NPA terrorist groups (CTG) in Zamboanga Peninsula, this week that resulted to the recovery of an M60 Machine Gun from the enemies.
On Monday morning, the combined troops of 97IB and 42IB encountered some 40 armed NPAs believed to be combined elements of HQ-KALAW and Main Regional Guerilla Unit (MRGU), both of Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC) in Brgy Pange Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte.
Lt. Col. Manaros Boransing, commanding officer of 97IB, said the troops recovered one M60 General Purpose Machine Gun (GMPG), three Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), assorted magazines, ammunitions, medical supplies, personal belongings and subversive documents.
The 45-minute firefight incurred no casualty on the government side while more wounded on NPA side as bloodstains showed in their withdrawal route.
“Our troops were conducting clearing operations in preparation for the distribution of Social Amelioration Program and relief goods for the constituents of Barangay Pange by the Municipal Inter Agency Task Force – COVID 19 of Siayan scheduled on May 5, 2020 when they encountered the terrorist group,” said Boransing.
Boransing added that this was the 5th time that they’ve engaged the terrorist group since April 12 this year.
On Sunday morning, the 53IB encountered 20 armed NPA in Brgy Pawan, Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur.
The 2-hour sporadic firefight incurred no casualty on the government side but local populace revealed there were wounded on the enemy side.
“The troops responded on the reports from the community that armed men are extorting food supplies from the locals,” said Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, Commanding Officer, 53IB.
Meanwhile, Col Leonel Nicolas, Commander, 102nd Infantry Brigade, who has operational jurisdiction of Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte province said that, “In less than one month, our troops were able to engaged, pursuit, tracked and reengaged the combined elements of HQ-KALAW and MRGU that resulted to a total of five encounters.”
“This is a result of the continued pursuit operation launched after receiving numerous reports from the locals of the NPA’s extortion activities in the hinterland communities despite the difficult situation that the locals are already experiencing during this time of COVID-19 crisis,” Nicolas added.
On his part, Maj. General Generoso “Gene” Ponio, Commander, 1st Infantry Division once again commended the troops for their exemplary performance during combat operations that inflicted a critical loss on the enemy’s firepower.
“We understand that they are already tired and hungry, that is why we are offering them an alternative option, lay down their arms and return to the folds of law,” Maj General Ponio said.
“Our relentless operations will continue until such time that we achieve our end state of creating a peaceful environment conducive for sustainable development in Western Mindanao,” MGen. Ponio added.
Masiding Noor Yahya/RSP