AFP, police to increase visibility amid rebel attacks in Masbate

AFP, police to increase visibility amid rebel attacks in Masbate

THE police and military will increase their presence in schools affected by the activity of the New People’s Army (NPA), especially in the province of Masbate, upon the orders of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as he assured residents, particularly students, parents and teachers, that the government is carrying out measures to protect them.

Marcos made the order following a series of clashes between the communist rebels and the security forces in the province over the past week.

Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the military’s 9th Infantry Division (ID) and the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Regional Command in Bicol already discussed measures to prevent the NPA from committing further terroristic activities in the province.

He said they are also in close coordination with the local government and school officials on how to counter the rebels’ misinformation campaign.

Galvez said the government also activated quick-reaction teams to assist affected students, teachers and the local population in Masbate.

“School officials were also briefed on how to react appropriately to a similar situation involving firefights or IED (improvised explosive device) incidents in areas with close proximity to learning institutions,” he said.

The education department earlier expressed concern over the “alarming rate” of NPA attacks in the province, which is causing undue learning disruptions for students in the area.

In a statement on Friday, March 24, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said one soldier was killed while two policemen and two soldiers were wounded during a series of encounters with the NPA in the province from March 20 to 22.

The attacks include a clash in Barangay Villahermosa in Cawayan and Barangay Locso-on in Placer, and a bomb attack in Barangay Gaid in Dimasalang.

Bicol education officials said face-to-face classes have been suspended in elementary and secondary schools in four towns of Masbate province due to ongoing clashes between government forces and NPA rebels. The conduct of in-person classes will remain suspended until the situation normalizes.

Galvez said the recent attacks by the rebels are acts of desperation after they encountered a series of setbacks in recent clashes with government troops.

In a press briefing, Department of National Defense Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said there were now only five active NPA guerilla fronts in the country from 89 fronts the group had before.

He said Mindanao remains the most NPA-infested area in the country.

Andolong said the government is now closer to finishing the country’s problem of insurgency. (SunStar Philippines)


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