IPIL, ZSP – A Communist New People’s Army (NPA) Terrorist (CNT) was killed and two high-powered firearms were captured in a clash with Tabak troopers in Purok 5, Barangay Batayan, Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte (ZDN) , Friday afternoon, July 10, 2020.
The combined elements of 44th, 97th and 42nd Infantry Battalions were responding to a report from the civilians that armed individuals were seen in the forested area of their barangay.
In a statement, Lt. Col. Don Templonuevo, Commanding Officer, 44IB said that, “This engagement has been made possible with the continued pursuit operations that the unit has relentlessly executed since March 1, 2020 and the continued trust and support of the locals,”
The 45-minute firefight incurred no casulaties on the government side and the capture of one M16 and one AK47 assault rifles, medicines, various magazines and ammunitions, terrorist propaganda materials and personal belongings.
“Five encounters were recorded before this incident, which transpired in Godod and Leon B Postigo, ZDN, to include the series of CTG violation on declaration of ceasefire during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis last months of March to April 2020 in Kabasalan and Siay, both in Zamboanga Sibugay Province,” Lt. Col. Templonuevo added.
Meanwhile, Col Leonel M Nicolas, Commander, 102nd Infantry Brigade, who has operational jurisdiction of ZDN urged the fleeing members of the CTG to return to the folds of law.
“The people of Zamboanga del Norte are now in unison in their resolve that all CTGs are not welcomed in their ancestral domains, lands and communities through the declaration of Persona Non Grata,” Col. Nicolas said.
“It is now the right time for you to follow the footsteps of your comrades who were now reintegrated to the mainstream society and were enjoying the benefits of the programs laid by the government ,” Col. Nicolas added.
Maj. Gen. Generoso Ponio, Commander, 1st Infantry Division, Philippine Army lauded the troops of 102nd Brigade.
“This encounter is another significant blow to the CTGs that will definitely demoralize their ranks and we are hoping that they will abandon their senseless and irrelevant armed struggle,” Maj. Gen. Ponio said.
“The Tabak Division will continue with its pursuit against these CTGs as we sustain our partnership with our stakeholders through the Local Task Force to End Local Communists Armed Conflict (LTF-ELCAC) for the implementation of developmental projects in conflict-affected areas in Western Mindanao,” Maj.Gen. Ponio added.
As of this posting, the troops are still pursuing the fleeing CNTs that scampered after the gunfight.