The Northern Samar provincial government has lauded the Philippine Army for its successful operation that left seven New People’s Army (NPA) combatants killed on the outskirts of Bobon, Northern Samar on Sunday. Governor Edwin Ongchuan, chair of the provincial task force to end local communist armed conflict, said in a statement Tuesday the victory is proof of the government’s commitment to pursue peace in the province. ‘Our government troops deserve our highest recognition for successfully defending our people from communists who continued in their harassment and extortion activities. While we believe peace can be achieved through the whole-of-nation approach, combating with stubborn communist terrorist group forces is only possible through a strong Philippine Army, which they have effectively delivered,’ Ongchuan said. On April 30, at least seven NPA members were killed during an encounter with soldiers in upland Santander village in Bobon town. Troops from the Army’s 803rd Infantry Brigade had an armed encounter with 40 rebels following a tip from residents of sightings of armed men on the outskirts of their village. The armed rebels belong to the subregional guerrilla unit and remnants of the dismantled front committee-2, subregional committee emporium of the NPA Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee led by Mario Sevillano. Sevillano is a notorious rebel leader who perpetrated numerous atrocities in Northern Samar province. Soldiers called for close air and artillery support from the Philippine Air Force since the NPA lair was heavily fortified and surrounded by prohibited anti-personnel mines. Soldiers recovered one R4 rifle, two M16 rifles, an AK47 rifle, anti-personnel mine and subversive documents. ‘We continue our appeal to the constituents of the province to support the call for the return of those who were waylaid by communists and live a normal and peaceful life, with their families and loved ones,’ Ongchuan added. Northern Samar is the most affected province in Eastern Visayas by insurgency with the operation of two active NPA guerilla fronts. The military said although front committees 1 and 15 are still active, they are not in control of any village in Northern Samar. The two remaining fronts are hiding in the upland villages of Catubig, Las Navas, Silvino Lobos, Palapag, Mapanas and Gamay towns. Front committee 2 operating in the boundary of Samar and Northern Samar has been dismantled this year after the capture and surrender of some of their combatants and the recovery of several firearms. The NPA front committee 3, which operates near the boundaries of Northern Samar and Eastern Samar provinces, has also been weakened after the series of operations conducted by government forces.
Source: Philippines News Agency