AFP not discounting presence of NPA rebels in Cebu
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command is also not discounting the possibility that there could be members of the New Peoples Army (NPA) in the province of Cebu.
Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, group commander of the 3rd Civil Relations Group-Civil Relations Service AFP issued the statement following a similar assertion by Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) Director Engelbert Soriano a week ago.
Martinez said there is still a possibility that there may be NPAs roaming around and looking for people to recruit in Cebu despite the secured environment here.
However, he believed that Cebuanos have become wary of the rebel group after they have experienced the destruction of communities and witnessed the unnecessary loss of lives.
“Natagam naman ang mga Cebuanos og mga ingon-ani nga situation in the past. Since na-declare nga insurgency-free ang Cebu, there are so many attempts to actually recover Cebu, as far as the NPA is concerned. But they failed. Bakit? Yung nga tao, nakita na nila yung negative side. Yung unnecessary loss of life before, destruction of communities. Yun ay mga testimonya na ayaw na nang tao dito sa Cebu, to go back in that barbaric period,” said Martinez.
He acknowledged that NPAs have the flexibility to roam around without carrying firearms and can also recruit but he said that the question remains, “do the people want or like them?”
Martinez said this will always go back to the community but he believed that Cebuanos are peace-loving people and will continue to cooperate with the authorities.
He also revealed that the 82nd Infantry Batallion has just arrived to complement the security on the island.
“Full force po…That’s actually ready and capable to secure the whole island of Cebu. So kung dati isang kompanya lang nang 47th Infantry Batallion ang nandidito, now naging full force batallion. More or less 500 yung personnel and may CAFGU po sila na handle as force multiplier,” he added.
Talking about the recent Bohol encounter between the AFP and NPA, Martinez believed that the latter’s combatants are not actually from Bohol and are merely recovering there.
Martinez expressed their gratitude towards the people for cooperating with the officers and for guiding them towards the location of the rebels.
“Ngayon nahihirapan sila because they are actually pushed against the wall. Marami pong natural obstacles diyan at na-lilimit ang kanilang movement. And people are very supportive to us,” he said, adding that they can assure that they will hit them harder this time, more so since the rebels are said to be targeting the civilians instead of the military.
Though he cannot ascertain as to how many NPA members are present in Cebu, Martinez assured that the figure is manageable and that they are making sure that the entire province is secured by government forces and the police. /rcg
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