BUTUAN CITY: Government forces in Caraga Region and parts of Northern Mindanao have killed eight communist rebels and seized 18 firearms in armed encounters in the last two months of the year, the Army’s 402 Infantry Brigade (402Bde) said Monday.
In a statement, 402Bde said government forces also seized three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and dismantled 12 communist New People’s Army (NPA) hideouts in January, February, and early part of the month.
“We will show the NPA the futility of their armed struggle. If they will not heed our call to voluntary surrender and lay down their firearms, we will use all available resources to stop their atrocities for wanton disregard of human rights,” Brig. Gen. Maurito L. Licudine, 402Bde commander, was quoted as saying.
Licudine said the brigade’s success can be attributed to the support of the community and through the convergence of various government agencies following the implementation of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 (EO 70).
Since 2016, Licudine said 567 NPA members have already surrendered to the government, 356 of whom have already benefited from the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).
“These efforts are the fruits of the sacrifices of our soldiers in the frontlines. They endure hardships and even sometimes offer the supreme sacrifice to give our people, whom we have sworn to protect, a comfortable and peaceful life,” he said.
The 402Bde covers the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte and parts of Butuan City in Caraga Region, and portions of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, and Camiguin in Northern Mindanao.
Three Army battalions are under the operational control of the 402Bde, including the 23rd, 26th, and 58th Infantry Battalions.
“Lay down your arms and stop the violence. Let us give peace a chance. After all, we are all Filipinos,” Licudine told the NPA combatants.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.