The military claims to have dismantled five guerrilla fronts of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the Zamboanga Peninsula, greatly weakening Communist rebel strength in the region.
As a result, Brigadier General Leonel Nicolas, commander of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade, declared two provinces – Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Sur – free of communist insurrection on Sunday, August 1.
Governors Wilter Palma of Zamboanga Sibugay and Victor Tu of Zamboanga del Sur declared the provinces insurgency-free.
According to Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, the cabinet official for the region’s development and security, just two NPA guerilla fronts remain in the Zamboanga Peninsula region.
When it comes to the communist insurgency in the past, the province of Zamboanga Sibugay was the most troublesome, but that changed when the 44th Infantry Battalion sent more men across the province from its base in Imelda town, Nicolas said.
The military has now switched its attention to Zamboanga del Norte, where NPA fighters are still active.
Soldiers from the 97th Infantry Battalion clashed with NPA rebels in Sitio Kumangoy, Barangay Carupay, Katipunan town in Zamboanga del Norte for around 10 minutes on Friday, July 30.
There were no reports of injuries during the July 4 fight between government troops and rebels in Kauswagan, Sergio Osmea Sr. town in Zamboanga del Norte, which resulted in the death of a rebel, but the 97th IB’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Manaros Boransing, said it was the second violent battle between government and rebel forces in Zamboanga del Norte in 26 days.
The military will scale up operations to pressure and drive the remaining NPA units out of the Zamboanga Peninsula, according to Major General Gene Ponio, head of the 1st Infantry Division.
“Five decades of armed struggle have not solved any of our problems. We all yearn for a peaceful country,” Ponio said.