AN OFFICIAL of the army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) over the weekend said the military is bracing for more gun battles with the communist insurgents after President Rodrigo Duterte proclaimed the end of the peace negotiations.
Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, 4ID spokesperson, said there will be no let up in pursuing the New People's Army (NPA) fighters, who will be celebrating the anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) a month from now.
Martinez said the communist guerillas may launch more offensives and atrocities for the CPP anniversary in December.
“We will pursue this mandate itong teroristang grupo lalo na dahil nalalapit ang anniversary ng CPP at gusto nilang mag-create ng more atrocities para mareport sa celebration nila kung ilan na napatay nila, ilan at magkano na na-extort nila at ilan na na-recruit nila particularly itong mga lumad kaya ito yung mga bagay na paiigtingin natin within our area of responsibility,” Martinez said.
Martinez said they are expecting more encounters and engagements with the NPA combatants in the next days after receiving tips from civilians and previous members of the armed group who returned back to the fold of the law.
The military is giving options to the communist guerillas to surrender or face the operating troops on the ground.
While the state forces is going after the NPA, Martinez said their call remains for them to put their guns down and start a new, normal life through the aid of government programs.
“Di naman patayan lang ang iniisip natin. Alam nating nahihirapan din sila so while we are doing the pressure sa kanila, patuloy din ang pag-encourage natin sa kanila na bumaba kasi maraming opportunity nag-aantay sa kanila,” Martinez said.
Martinez assured that the safety of innocent civilians in the communities will remain their utmost concern and priority whenever there are fire fights.
Martinez said the military troops are trained and fully understood the protocol during encounters such as the conduct of deliberate planning and security awareness to prevent collateral damage.
Martinez explained that their community-based efforts will have to push the NPAs away from the communities so the soldiers can engage the enemies alone.
“We want to press the fight kay gusto natin mailayo sa community ang mga NPA kasi habang andyan sila patuloy ang kanilang atrocities at extortion activities. We assure the people that we will use precision firing at trained ang tropa dyan. Yung mga NPA kasi are fond of hiding in the community,” Martinez said.
Martinez said the military and the police are backing each other in the fight against terrorism and other threat groups.
Last week, top officials of the Northern Mindanao police and the 4ID have met and discussed on how to strengthen their ties and support system in fighting the Maoist guerillas.