By BicolToday.com staff
LEGAZPI CITY, 07February2017 (BicolToday.com) – Sorsogon and Masbate in Bicol region and Quezon province in the Calabarzon region are the priority areas in military operations according to Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
AFP troops will continue to conduct tactical operations within the bounds of its rules of engagement in the Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions according to Lt. Gen. Ferdinand F Quidilla, SOLCOM commander.
Maj. Gen. Manolito Orense, commanding general of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division, said early in January that “insurgency has remained a potent threat to national and local security”.
Despite the ongoing peace talks and previously declared unilateral ceasefire by NDFP and GRP, reports revealed that AFP continues to violate its own ceasefire in the form of counter-insurgency programs as Oplan Bayanihan and Oplan Kapayapaan.
These counter-insurgency programs are imposed in cooperation with private groups and Local Government Units (LGU).
Orense stressed that LGUs have a big responsibility to address insurgency.
According to Orense, many government officials are allegedly supporting the NPA and allegedly there are 217 NPA combatants in Bicol where some 312 barangays are affected by insurgency.
First encounter after ceasefire termination
The first firefight in the Bicol region after President Rodrigo Duterte declared the termination of its ceasefire and of the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) took place in Sorsogon province followed by the encounter in Masbate.
Duterte had its declaration of terminations after NPA withdraws its unilateral ceasefire with the government that will take effectively on February 10.
According to the CPP-NPA the President failed to release all political prisoners in accordance with the previous agreements on the peace talks and pull out government troops in communities.
In Sorsogon, residents said four (4) Army troopers were wounded, but official military report said only (2) soldiers were injured, namely CPL Jerome T Tu and PFC Mart Maximo M Osanida.
According to a military report, a unit of Alpha Coy led by 2nd Lt. Pendejito, while conducting combat operation, Monday morning February 6, encountered about 15 NPA fighters at Sitio Burabod, Trece Martirez, Casiguran.
Four families were evacuated in fear that they would be caught in the crossfire. While head teachers of San Pascual, Burgos and Sta. Cruz schools suspended their classes. Pupils at Trece Martirez Elementary School were advised to stay inside their rooms. [see related story]
Another clash occurred in mining town Aroroy, Masbate, after the combat operation in Sorsogon. [see related story]
An army corporal was wounded during firefight in mining town Aroroy, Masbate involving about 15 NPA fighters and AFP troops belonging to the 93rd DRC. [BicolToday.com]