It will take two more Army battalions on the ground to defeat New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, in Surigao and Agusan provinces, according to the newly promoted commander of the 402nd Infantry Brigade Brig. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal.
Gacal, whose military unit has jurisdiction over Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat provinces, said more government troops are needed to combat NPA guerillas and put an end to communist insurgency in the region.
Considering the rebel’s mastery of the terrain in the mountainous and jungle-clad Surigao and Agusan areas, Gacal said he already suggested to the Army higher-ups to deploy two more battalions for the said provinces.
Gacal said he was being joined by local officials in asking for the additional troops to completely eradicate “remaining NPAs” in these provinces, who have been harassing residents and some rural businessmen.
“These remaining NPAs who already turned to banditry are enforcing their force taxation to our far-flung villagers and rural businesses and this must be stopped at all cost,” Gacal said, citing the recent burning of several multi-million pesos worth of heavy equipment in a quarry site in Barangay Bonbon, Butuan City.
This was perpetrated by the NPA because the contractor did not want to give in to the rebels’ extortion attempt, army official said.
At least two communist rebels were killed in a series of clashes with government forces in Butuan and Agusan Del Sur since October 23, the Army reported. By CLC