TWO suspected communist insurgents were killed in an encounter on Sunday, February 18, in Agusan del Sur as government forces press on with relentless combat operations against communist rebels since early this year.
First Lieutenant Tere Ingente, spokesperson of Army's 4th Infantry Division (4ID), said the troops were conducting security operations in the hinterland areas of barangay Bunawan Brooks, Bunawan town, Agusan del Sur when they encountered about 10 members of the New People's Army (NPA).
The NPA rebels are believed to be members of Platoon 2, Guerilla Front Committee 14 (GC14).
Ingente said the firefight lasted for about 25 minutes. Troops recovered 3 AK47 rifle, along with the dead bodies.
The fatalities have not been identified as of this writing.
Colonel Andres Centino, 401 Brigade Commander, said the recent setbacks of the GFC-14 have caused demoralization among the rebels.
Centino urged a certain Leonida Belarmino "Monic" Sanchez, allegedly the front secretary of GFC-14, to surrender and "choose the path for peace".
"Heed the call of the government to go back to mainstream society, be more productive citizens again and have a chance to avail of the Comprehensive Integration Program (CLIP) offered by the government and be with their families," Centino added.
In February 14, 16,and 17, successive encounters between troops and rebels have transpired, particularly in Bunawan Brooks, Agusan.
These encounters, Ingente said, resulted in the recovery of a cache of different firearms such as an improvised explosive device, personal belongings of the rebels, including ammunition.
In February 16, one suspected NPA member was also killed in the same area.
Also in February 14, troops in Valencia, Bukidnon also found a food and medical cache allegedly owned by the NPA.
Major General Ronald Villanueva, 4ID commander said the series of encounters prove that there is no let-up in the operations against the NPA.
"In fact, the Philippine Army have been realigning forces to our area of responsibility," Villanueva said.
Last year, the 4ID has activated the 88th Infantry Battalion, while the 65th Infantry Battalion from the 1st Infantry Division was transferred, and recently, the 901st Brigade arrived from Albay, all to help 4ID in its mission "to end terrorism in Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions."