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BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte – Troopers of the 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion (23IB) discovered components of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) buried by the Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) in the area of Barangay Maasin, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur on August 10, 2020 at around 6:30 o’clock in the evening.

A certain Alias Lee, a Former Rebel (FR) who previously surrendered to the 23IB revealed the location of said bomb-making materials. The troops immediately proceeded to the area and discovered four (4) gallons with eighty-five (85) packs of Ammonium Nitrate buried in the area of Barangay Maasin.

It can be recalled that on June 23, 2020, the troops of 23IB also seized a total of eleven (11) containers of Ammonium Nitrate and other bomb-making materials at the same Brgy after responding to the reports coming from the concerned residents on the location of said materials.

The containers of Ammonium Nitrate, according to Alias Lee, will be utilized by the members of the Sub-Regional Sentro de Grabidad (SRSDG) SAGAY, Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) 3, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) to generate more or less eighty-five (85) Anti-Personnel Mines.

The four (4) gallons of Ammonium Nitrate were part of the deposits of the CNTs in the area that posed a great danger to the lives and safety of local residents.

Treaties in the country and abroad, particularly the Ottawa Treaty, Geneva Convention and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) strictly prohibit the storing and use of IEDs, including the materials used for making bombs in areas populated by civilians.

The IEDs will not only harm the government forces but also the innocent civilians that reside in communities where these explosives are stored and planted by the CNTs.

In his statement, Lt. Co. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, the acting commander of 23rd IB hit the CNTs for disregarding the safety of the civilians in Barangay Maasin.

“The CNTs directly threatened and put the lives of the civilians in the area in great risk by illegally producing and using prohibited Anti-Personnel Mines (APMs),” Paulo said.

He added that the acts of the CNTs clearly manifest their complete disregard to the rights of the people living in the remote areas of Agusan del Sur.

“These CTGs have been disturbing the lives of the populace who wished to live peacefully. Aside from using IEDs, they were also regularly extorting money, manipulating and recruiting the populace and putting their lives in danger,” Paulo said.“ As noted by our soldiers who retrieved the explosives, they observed that the bomb-making materials and the IEDs were concealed near the area where regular activities of farmers are held, including the use of foot trails in going to their farm and during the pasturing of their farm animals,” Paulo added.

Meanwhile, the 23rd IB commander also lauded the efforts of the residents and the FRs for providing the troopers with positive information where the IEDs and the explosive materials were hidden by the CNTs.

He added that the support of the civilians in Barangay Maasin manifested their tiredness and weariness on the presence and manipulation of the CNTs.

“Your willingness to cooperate gave strong motivation to our soldiers to continue their mission and do their best to serve and protect you from the threats of the CNTs,” Paulo said.

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