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Three NPA leaders slain in Army clash in Agusan Sur

THREE high-ranking leaders of the communist terrorist group (CTG) were killed after a series of focused military operations by the 4th Infantry Division to thwart reported strategic atrocities to celebrate the rebel group’s anniversary celebration last March 29 in Agusan del Sur.  

Col. Francisco Lorenzo, the Officer-In-Charge of the 401st Infantry Brigade based in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, identified them as Emmanuel Balano “Salem” Anub Sr, the secretary of Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) Westland and also the Secretary of the Weakened Guerilla Front (GF) 21, both under the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

Lorenzo disclosed that troops of the 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion encountered more or less 20 CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs) in the mountainous area of Sitio Hugmakan, Barangay San Juan, Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur on March 30. 

The soldiers responded to numerous reports from residents that the bulk of armed men were consolidating and planning to conduct atrocities in the area. 

He added that a 25-minute firefight transpired, killing the three notorious fugitive CTG leaders. They also captured an AK-47 rifle and several magazines at the encounter site.

It can be recalled that last March 27, an encounter also occurred at Sitio Vertudazo in the same barangay, killing two CTG high-ranking leaders, identified as alias “Dano” and “Zig,” the regional finance and regional medical staff of the NEMRC, respectively. 

Troops also seized one M4 carbine rifle, one modified carbine rifle, numerous ammunition and magazines, and other war paraphernalia. 

“These are victories of the people. We were able to prevent CTG’s hostile plans for their anniversary because of the local folks who supported us and yearned for peace for the longest time,” he said.

“May these unfortunate events serve as an eye-opener to their remaining members that it is an opportune time to return to the folds of the law to avoid the same fate as their dead leaders. May they realize that the CTG no longer holds meaning to the society as it is already considered insignificant after 54 years of atrocities and violence,” Col. Lorenzo added. 

In addition, another demoralized CTG member yielded to the Arrowhead troops and the Police Regional Office XIII on March 29. 

The military identified him as Romeo Ocon Saranza, a member of a CTG unit operating in the areas of Butuan City.

Meanwhile, the 88th Infantry Battalion found an arms cache with one M1 Garand rifle, five sacks of rice, and other war paraphernalia was discovered at Sitio Kauhangan, Barangay Canangaan, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon, on March 29, 2023. 

On the same date, the people of Eastern Misamis Oriental denounced the CTG for its lies and deceitful acts, even declaring it as persona non grata during a series of indignation rallies.

4ID Commander Maj. Gen. Jose Maria R. Cuerpo II credited the accomplishments to the army’s counterparts in ending the local communist armed conflict. 

“The ever-increasing support that we are gaining from the local government units, other government agencies, and the communities is the key to this enormous achievement,” Cuerpo said.

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