THE Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (IB) said Monday that there is no stopping on hunting down communist rebels, as the total gun ban is now effective.

Civil Military Operations (CMO) chief Lieutenant Joselito Dalida of the 61st IB said the military operations against the rebels are now ongoing in south Negros Occidental and would continue unless an halt order from the higher office told them to do so.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

"We can't wait for them to do the first step," said Dalida. "We need to stop them before they could do any harm to the people."

Dalida said the Army forces in the south is now in its regular heightened alert following the taking effect of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gun ban, which is intended for a peaceful national and local elections on May 10, 2010. Said gun ban would last until June 2010.

"It's kind of a big responsibility for the military knowing that many of the towns and cities in the south are declared hotspots," said Dalida. "But the cooperation and unity of both PNP and Army could keep the enemies away."

During the first day of the gun ban, which took effect last Sunday, five firearms were seized by the authority in the province. This is a record that both the Army and police said would incline in the coming days.

"We need to expect for the worse," Dalida said. "But it doesn't mean the worse would overcome the better.

Dalida also urges the public in Chicks (Cauayan, Himamaylan City, Ilog, Candoni, Kabankalan City, and Sipalay City) area to avoid bringing any kinds of firearms in the public places to avoid consequences.

The military said it is regularly holding patrols in some spots in Chicks area where New People’s Army (NPA) sightings are rampant.

Among the hotspots was Sipalay City, where NPA nearly sabotaged a cellular site last week if not confronted by the Army of the 61st IB to a 10-minute firefight.