DESPITE the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) show of force, the communist New People’s Army (NPA) remains unperturbed and even getting bolder by making another strike against government forces in Compostela Valley province.
Attacked by the NPAs were three members of the peace and development team of the 71st Infantry Battalion in Barangay Elizalde, Maco, Compostela Valley.
Lt. Vilma Mojado, spokesman, 1001st Brigade, said one of the soldiers, Private First Class Jesus Tomas, was taken hostage by the rebels while two of his companions managed to hide.
“The two unarmed soldiers were hidden by the civilian populace when the NPA were about to approach them while the other one, PFC Jesus Tomas, was instantly grabbed and mercilessly dragged away by the New People’s Army,” Mojado said.
The incident came just four days after they ambushed Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona and her convoy that left the mayor’s two civilian aides dead and injured one of her police security escorts.
The AFP has poured an additional two battalions of soldiers and a battalion of battle-tested Philippine Marines in Misamis Oriental to run after the rebels that ambushed Guingona.
Military spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said all AFP units in MIsamis Oriental and their augmentation force were under ordered to intensify their operations against the NPAs.
“Focused combat operations towards the armed group, relentlessly go after the perpetrators, relentless pursuit of the perpetrators of the recent ambush. The orders of the chief of staff [Gen. Emmanuel Bautista] go after the perpetrators but [strictly follow]the rules of engagement and then adherence to the rule of law,” Burgos said.
“He ordered the increase in the intensity of the conduct of security patrols in the countryside so that the NPAs would not be able to establish ambuscade,” Burgos added.
The same degree of intensity were also implemented by government forces in rebel-infested provinces of Samar and Negros, among others.
Lt. Col Noel Vestuir, commanding officer of the Samar-based 20th Infantry Battalion, said that they have intensified their security operations.
“On our part here we continuously conduct our sustained and focused military operations to deny them of doing their illegal activities.