Five high-powered rifles were recovered following an encounter with around 30 communist guerrillas in Sitio Mikit, San Martin, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur at 6:35 a.m. on Friday.
1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, the civil-military operations officer of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, said they recovered an AK-47 rifle, two M16-A1 rifles with one M203 grenade launcher, one M653 rifle, eight rounds of rifle grenades, 12 backpacks, five bandoliers with full assorted ammunition, and commercial radio.
Punsalan said troops were conducting a defense patrol prior to the MSWD’s distribution of the Social Amelioration Cash (SAC).
For now, the 3SFBn and Regional Mobile Force Battalion 13 troops are still in a hot-pursuit operation.
According to the Army, the rebels have been extorting from the civilians, particularly on the relief goods they receive from the government.
The strict implementation of localized enhanced community quarantine of various local government units made it difficult for the NPA to procure supplies due to the checkpoints and the food pass. As a result, they are forced to take away the relief goods of the civilians, Punsalan said.
Barangay San Martin, along with 30 barangays of Prosperidad, has declared the NPA as persona non grata earlier this year after they torched a dump truck in Barangay Libertad on Jan. 8, 2020.
“While we are battling the COVID-19, these communist NPA terrorists make the situation worse for civilians, especially the poorest sectors, who are greatly affected by the enhanced community quarantine,” Lt. Col. Joey B Baybayan, the commander of the 3SF Battalion, said.
Col. Allan D. Hambala, 401st Infantry Brigade commander, said that active defense security measures are in line with the COVID-19 Task Force’s guidelines to maintain peace and order.
“As frontliners in the security sector, it is our job to ensure the government’s safe delivery of relief services and the distribution of social amelioration cash to the affected sectors in the crisis,” he said. “We must protect the civilians and government workers from any form of harassment and extortion.”
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