ILOILO City – The Philippine Army in Panay would not commit to a specific timeline but is determined to end the communist armed conflict in the island.
“We are really trying our best. Tanan man kita want to end this. It is more than 50 years (but) considering the nature of the revolutionary movement, indi lang gid ta mag-ano sang exact deadline,” Brigadier General Michael Samson, commander of the 301st Infantry Brigade (301IB), told Panay News.
The national government targets to end the local communist armed conflict within the term of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., or until 2028.
“Matatapos natin itong local armed communist conflict. And from there, puro developments ang ating itataguyod and sisiguraduhin natin ‘yung delivery of services,” said National Security Adviser Eduardo Año during a recent briefing in Malacañang.
Samson said, “We are trying our best to end it once and for all.”
The 301IB is currently monitoring more or less 110 remaining Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) members in Panay Island, he said.
Panay, the sixth largest and fourth most populous island in the Philippines, is divided into four provinces – Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, and Antique.
“Kon indi mo sila makibon in one area like Iloilo, they go to Antique. If wala naman, they go to Aklan. So, hindi ako maka-ano nga makibon mo gid na sila, but ang hambal ko lang we are really trying,” stressed Samson.
The 301IB commander did not specify which area or province is insurgency-free, saying that rebels transfer from one place to another.
Samson also said the number of CTG members in Panay has decreased due to the active campaign of the Philippine Army; rebels availing themselves of the livelihood program offered to surrenderees by the national government; or rebels getting tired of being nomads hiding from the authorities.
Most of the remaining CTG members in Panay Island are believed to be staying in the hinterlands, particularly within the boundaries of the provinces, to transfer from one place to another easily.
“This is due to the waning support of the people, siguro natak-an na gid man iban sa ila… naging common criminals, extortionists, or nagapanagyo-ngayo, or threatening people with their firearms,” said Samson.
But Samson added that most residents are no longer giving in to the extortions; they know they can ask for help from law enforcers.
Last week, the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) of the Philippine Army named seven individuals they claimed were the top New People’s Army (NPA) leaders in Western Visayas.
These top leaders have cash reward duly approved by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and they have been under manhunt operation for a long time.
* Ma. Concepcion Bocala, 1st Deputy Secretary of Komiteng Rehiyon (KR)-Panay
* Roberto Cabales, secretary, Central Front, KR-Panay
* Roberto Gomia, 1st Deputy Secretary, Southern Front, KR-Panay
* Arlo Vargas, Squad 1 Leader, Regional Striking Force, KR-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor
* Severino Geonago, Political Guide, Team 2, Squad 1, SYP Platoon of KR-Panay
* Magno Flores, 1st Deputy Secretary, CN2-W, KR-NCBS
* Nahum Camariosa, commanding officer, SYP Platoon, Southern Front, KR-Panay
“We are calling the public na baka may alam kayo ng whereabouts ng mga rebelde na nabanggit natin na ipaalam sa atin or sa police para mahuli na natin. But it’s better na mag-surrender na sila for their safety and avail the government’s program,” 3ID spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel J-Jay Javines said.
They may contact to Division Public Affairs (DPAO) through 3ID hotline No. 0927623 9321 or message the Division’s Facebook Page – Philippine Army Spearhead Troopers.
“Your cooperation is vital to our anti-insurgency effort, especially in locating and neutralizing these wanted NPA leaders, who orchestrated various terroristic activities in Region 6, as indicated by their crimes. Let us work together to end the menace these personalities pose,” said 3ID commander Major General Marion Sison./PN