Army on alert vs. rebels amid Covid-19 threat

The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) will continue to provide security to people against rebel attacks while maintaining the Panay Island free from Covid-19 infection, an official said on Tuesday.

This as the 61st Infantry Batallion (61IB) clashed with suspected members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Sitio Agtaraw, Barangay Binolosan Pequeño, Calinog, Iloilo on Monday.

“We assure the public that we have enough forces dealing with two situations. We cannot leave behind our primary duty which is really to preserve the peace and order situation,” Capt. Cenon Pancito III, 3ID’s spokesperson, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Pancito said the Army’s 61st IB has ample soldiers to guard the borders as the provinces in Panay implement respective community quarantine until March 31.

The need for the augmentation on border deployment is per need basis considered by the local government, he said.

“We have enough forces. We have reserved force and it is not depleted for the use of those in the borders, at the checkpoints,” Pancito said.

The CPP-NPA “had been deceptive from the very start” and has got the wrong appreciation of the work of the Army as the Monday’s encounter proved that they saw a chance to attack, he said.

“We have to send our forces out there to hunt them that’s why we saw them in this very particular incident. They moved, and maybe one of the reasons is (they thought) we were busy and we are becoming complacent on our efforts in the mountains, but that is not the case,” he said.

Placed on red alert status on Saturday, Pancito said they have also received a directive from the higher headquarters to make its facilities available for Covid-19 concerns.

Assets like vehicles and camp premises are available for the transport of medical needs, among others.

“It will be a matter of how we organize our assets in such a manner that we can provide for both sides,” he said.

The Monday’s encounter in Calinog town led to the recovery of three rifle grenades, a homemade M79 with seven ammunition, two backpacks, two hammocks, medical paraphernalia, assorted canned goods and subversive documents with high intelligence value.

The firefight lasted for about 10 minutes before the terrorist group scampered in different directions.

There was no casualty recorded on the government side.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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