Army overruns NPA hideout in Agusan; rebels yield in Butuan
By Alexander Lopez / Philippine News Agency
Google map of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.
BUTUAN CITY – Troopers from the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion (IB) on Wednesday afternoon overran a New People’s Army (NPA) hideout after an encounter in Sitio Taub, Barangay Rizal, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.
Lt. Col. Julius Cesar Paulo, the 23IB commander, told the Philippine News Agency Thursday that their troops were conducting focused military operations in the area in response to the reports of civilians on the presence of the NPA insurgents when the clash broke out.
“After the 10-minute armed encounter, the rebels abandoned their position as they scampered to different directions,” Paulo said.
He said the rebels were led by a certain Rogelio Gerondio alias Napnap of the Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabidad Sagay of the NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC).
Paulo said the NPAs had been using the hideout for the past several days as they conducted their terrorist activities in Barangay Rizal.
“Our troops recovered one M14 rifle with three magazines. We also recovered from the hideout two containers filled with some 200 M-14 and M-16 rounds of ammunition,” Paulo said.
He said they also suspect that the encounter resulted in several casualties on the side of the NPA insurgents.
“We immediately conducted clearing and pursuit operation where our troops discovered bloodstains in their escape routes,” Paulo said.
Surrender of NPA leaders
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) reported the surrender of two ranking NPA leaders to the 402IB in Butuan City on Tuesday.
The 4ID identified the surrenderers as Armando Rabanes alias Antoy, the deputy secretary and concurrent finance officer, political adviser, and spokesperson of the Sub-Regional Command (SRC) 3, NPA NCMRC; and Marvin Hinampas Campos alias Manoy, the squad 1 leader of Platoon Sagay, SRC3, NCMRC.
“Ravanes is listed by the 4ID as a high-value individual who has close ties with Ka Oris while Campos is part of the NPA group that supported Ravanes,” the 4ID said.
The two NPA rebels also turned in their M16 and AK-47 rifles.
“The surrender of Ravanes only proves that the NPA has weakened particularly in the Agusan provinces. We have advanced the momentum since the death of Ka Oris as its members' morale is greatly affected in addition to the lack of support from the civilian populace,” said Maj. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., 4ID commander, and newly-appointed Philippine Army chief.
Brawner also urged the remaining NPA rebels in Agusan del Norte to surrender and give peace a chance.
“The communist rebels will not win in this fight and that they must abandon the armed struggle as the Army will not stop to track and pursue them until they are defeated,” Brawner said.
The European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines have listed the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA as a terrorist organization.
The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the National Democratic Front as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)