Bancasi, Butuan City – Troops under the operational control of 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade, figured in a series of encounters resulting to one (1) CPP-NPA Terrorist (CNT) killed, three (3) firearms seized and the recovery of assorted war materiel in Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte on April 19-20, 2020.

This transpired after 402Bde and its OPCON units resumed the conduct of Focused Military Operation and intensified the hunt against the CNTs sowing terror amidst their own unilateral ceasefire declaration and the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. After the termination of the unilateral ceasefire of the government, the troops of 29th Infantry (Matatag) Battalion under the operational control of 402nd Brigade immediately conducted offensive combat operations to track down an armed group conducting extortion activities who harassed the troops in a nearby municipality during the ceasefire.

More or less 20 CNTs believed to be members of Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda (SYP) 16A, Guerilla Front Committee (GFC) 16 of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Command (NEMRC) under alias @GAB engaged in a five (5) minute firefight with 29IB troopers resulting to the seizure of an enemy hideout that can accommodate more or less 20 persons at around 5:30AM, April 20, 2020 in Brgy Bangayan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte.

At around 11:40AM, blocking forces of 29IB again clashed against five (5) CNTs believed to be members of same group under alias GAB in the same barangay resulting to the killing of @ BANJO, the Vice Commander of SYP 16A, seizure of one (1) M4 rifle with attached M203 grenade launcher, one (1) battery pack for Harris handheld radio, one (1) cellphone, one (1) backpack with subversive documents, and one (1) IED switch kit.

Then at 15:10PM, while the troops were preparing for the extraction of the killed CNT personality and other recovered items, 29IB troopers figured in another skirmish with another four (4) CNTs believed to be the same CNT group. The firefight lasted only for about fifteen (15) minutes where the CNTs scampered towards south direction leaving bloodstains on their withdrawal route. After clearing the area, troops recovered one (1) AK47 rifle and one (1) magazine for AK47 rifle loaded with twenty (20) rounds of live ammunition at the encounter site.

Meanwhile, in Surigao del Norte, at about 14:35PM, April 19, 2020, troops of 30th Infantry (Python) Battalion under the operational control of 402nd Brigade also clashed against undetermined number of CNTs believed to be members of SYP16C, GF16 of the NEMRC at Sitio Katikuyan, Brgy Camam-onan, Gigaquit, SDN. A thirty (30) minute firefight ensued, after which, the enemy withdrew towards several directions and this resulted to the recovery of assorted war materiels namely: twelve (12) backpacks with personal belongings, six (6) magazines for M14 with ninety-nine (99) live ammunitions, two (2) empty magazines for AK47 rifle, sixty-eight (68) rounds of live ammunitions for M16 rifle, two (2) anti-personnel mine (APM), fifty (50) meters electrical wire, seven (7) jungle hammocks, twelve (12) poncho tents and several subversive documents.

It can be recalled that the CNTs have suffered setbacks after skirmishes with 29IB troopers against more or less eighteen (18) CNTs under alias Albren (True Name: Samuel Batican) of SYP 16A, GF 16 of NEMRC at Brgy Cuyago, Jabonga, ADN last April 12, 2020 resulted to the capture of five (5) CNTs and the rescue of three (3) CNT minors who were recruited and exploited as child combatants.

The 402nd Brigade directed its OPCON Battalions (23IB and 29IB in Agusan del Norte, 30IB in Surigao del Norte, and 36IB in Surigao del Sur) to intensify the hunt against the CNTs after deliberately violating their own declaration of unilateral ceasefire and demonstrated lack of sincerity by killing unarmed and innocent civilians, threatening communities for extortion and forcing them in giving food items.

In his statement, Brigadier General Maurito L Licudine, Commander of the 402nd Brigade said, “Our resolve to protect the communities from the CNTs have even increased tremendously as we have seen that these terrorists do not respect human rights and grossly disregarded the value of human lives. The recent surrender and clashes of our troops were clear manifestations on the support of the people to our soldiers in fighting these criminals who aggravated their sufferings in this COVID pandemic”.