Residents lauded for averting NPA ‘atrocity’ in Surigao Norte

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BUTUAN CITY – Village residents of the Surigao del Norte town of Mainit have been hailed for helping avert another “atrocity” of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) after reporting the presence of guerillas in their barangay.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, the Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion (30IB) said they immediately acted on the civilian tip-off, resulting in an encounter in Barangay Tolingon, Mainit on the morning of the same day.

The 10-minute clash forced the NPA rebels “to abandon their position, leaving behind a backpack containing personal belongings,” the 30IB said, adding that government troopers suffered no casualties.

The rebels were still being pursued in the area as of posting time, it said.

Village residents declared the NPA and its mother organization, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), persona non grata or unacceptable in the barangay late last year.

Lt. Col. Jeffry A. Villarosa, 30IB commander, said the “courage of the residents” reflected the “strong resistance of barangay residents from the ideologies of the NPA.”

Villarosa said such declaration by villagers themselves has “limited the mobility of the NPA” in almost all barangays in Surigao del Norte.

“Whenever the civilian(s) (see) these terrorists, they immediately call our attention,” he said.

1Lt. Wilfredo F. Quilang, 30IB civil-military operations officer, said the NPA was set to conduct extortion activities in Barangay Tolingon before the encounter.

“Some residents immediately called us. They were worried the NPA rebels seen in the vicinity of their village were out to collect money from them,” Quilang said a phone interview on Thursday.

A total of 169 barangays in the Caraga region already declared the NPA as persona non grata in 2019. Of the total number of barangays, 22 are in Surigao del Norte, the Army said.