ILOILO – The New People’s Army (NPA) is weakening, according to the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) commander, Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara.
To bolster his point, he cited an incident in Barangay Panuran, Lambunao, Iloilo on April 23.
Troops of the 61IB proceeded to Barangay Panuran after having been alerted by concerned citizens about the presence of armed men there.
But when they reached the village around 6:30 a.m., what greeted the soldiers were lots of abandoned belongings in a remote, secluded area.
According to Batara, the rebels obviously hurriedly fled after getting wind that government troops were coming their way.
“Hindi nila kaya mag-engage sa ating mga tao kaya tumakbo sila,” said Batara.
The rebels, he added, belonged to NPA Panay’s Baloy Platoon led by Ka Andoy.
Batara believed the rebels were in the area for extortion activities.
“They may also be planning tactical offensives against government forces,” he said.
Batara called on the local populace to continue reporting to authorities any suspicious groups or persons in their areas.
Tuesday last week, April 16, the 61IB foiled the NPA’s plan to harass the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project (JRMP) Stage II in Calinog town which was adjacent to Lambunao. Its troops encountered around 10 rebels in Barangay Masaroy, Calinog.
Batara said his battalion received information about the plans of the rebels to conduct ambushes and burn heavy equipment at the mega dam construction site.
The P11.2-billion JRMP II held its ceremonial groundbreaking just this Feb. 27./PN