Army engaged rebels in search of food

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DAVAO CITY — The reported massive attacks by the New People’s Army in the hinterlands of Davao Oriental and Agusan del Sur in its quest for food amidst the coronavirus pandemic may just be another desperate move to get food. However, the same also connotes a violation of the ceasefire agreement which further impacts the timely distribution of food for the hungry civilian population.

However, Eastern Mindanao Command chief Major General Jose Faustino said, the military is always in an advantageous situation in all these as they have the trust of the civilians, a reason why the attempt to take away food intended for the communities always fails.

To the rebels, Faustino urged, to  lay down arms and return to the fold of the law “You have a caring government, we will not harm you.”

“Surrender and avail the Government’s Enhanced Local Integration Program and other Social Programs instead of harassing communities and grabbing their relief goods,” Faustino in a statement said.

“Let us ensure that the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs) will not be hampered and shall reach its intended recipients. Let us not be deceived by the Communist Group’s treacherous ceasefire declaration,” the statement cited.

“Do not add your family’s misery, come down,  We have a caring government that attends to the need of every citizen of this country in times of crisis,” Faustino stressed.

Further, reports noted that on April 17, 2020, at about 6:35 AM, elements from the 3rd Special Forces Battalion encountered about 30 New Peoples Army in Sitio Mikit, San Martin Propseridad, Agusan del Sur while they were conducting a security patrol for the MSWD personnel of the said municipality.

During the last two weeks, series of encounters took place in the countryside of  Barangay Cuyago, Jabonga, Agusan Del Norte on April 13, and in Barangay Mahan-ub, Baganga, Davao Oriental on April 11, 2020. 

Last April 7, another encounter took place in Barangay Tagdangwa, Pantukan, Davao De Oro after an AFP-PNP Inter-Agency group responded to an alleged NPA extortion in the said area.

In said encounters, two rebels were killed and 11 high powered firearms were captured. Meantime, most of the encounters happened while the military escorted the relief operations for the residents in those areas.

This developed as  Faustino lauded the efforts of the different units in Eastern Mindanao in supporting the different LGUs in their initiatives against COVID-19. He also reminded them of their task in securing the communities from the same acts of lawless armed groups.

“Let us continue to support the Local Government initiatives and programs to prevent the spread of the virus and mitigate its social and economic impact without compromising the security of our communities from possible terroristic acts,” he added.

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