TACLOBAN CITY– The Philippine Army in Eastern Visayas has asked its men to be more aggressive in their fight against the New People’s Army (NPA), after a soldier engaged in community support program was killed in an ambush in Las Navas, Northern Samar on Saturday.
In a statement, Maj. Gen. Raul Farnacio, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, Samar, said there should be no holiday break for soldiers despite their enemy’s declaration of holiday truce.
“I instructed the troops to be more aggressive to put an end to the terroristic activities of the terrorists against our people within our area of operations,” Farnacio said.
On Dec. 22, about 30 NPA members attacked soldiers in Caputo-an village deployed to assist the community for the needed basic services by the local government of Las Navas town.
The more than one-hour gun battle killed Pfc. Alvin Avila of Burauen, Leyte and wounded Privates Ivan Anthony Ignao and Michael Ocasla. After the encounter, the troops recovered drop wire; a bag of assorted empty shells of machine gun, rifles, and pistols; cooking pots; detonating cords and one empty box with Armscor trademark.
The Army also condemned recent crimes committed by the NPA such as the killing of former San Jose de Buan, Samar Mayor Ananias Rebato, assassination attempt on Matuguinao, Samar mayoralty candidate Aran Boller, and landmine explosion that wounded soldiers and civilians in Catarman, Northern Samar.
“It only shows how desperate they are in their armed struggle, in their failure to conduct extortion activities in the far-flung areas particularly in San Jose De Buan and Matuguinao, Samar,” Farnacio said.
“I urge the community to report to the authorities the presence of any armed group in your area. Security is a shared responsibility of everyone, it is not just for us, the security forces and government institutions but also with the civil society and the communities,” he added.
With communist rebels poised to celebrate their 50th founding anniversary on Dec. 26, the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday advised the public to take the necessary security precautions and remain vigilant for possible attacks by the terror group.
The NPA, the rebel group’s armed wing, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union. (PNA)