Army battalion lands in Tandag for deployment vs NPA

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TANDAG, Surigao del Sur (MindaNews/21 January) — An Army battalion of around 500 men and officers arrived here Wednesday on board a C-130 cargo aircraft from Mindoro for deployment against the New Peoples Army (NPA).

With the arrival of the 16th Infantry Battalion, there are now four army battalions operating in Surigao del Sur, mostly targeting the Andap Valley complex where most of the rebels are believed to be operating.

ANTI-INSURGENCY CAMPAIGN. Soldiers of the Army 16th Infantry Battalion arrived by C-130 plane in Tandag, Surigao Del Sur on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2015. More soldiers are deployed to augment troops fighting the communist insurgency. Four battalions are now currently deployed in Surigao del Sur province. MindaNews photo by Froilan Gallardo
ANTI-INSURGENCY CAMPAIGN. Soldiers of the Army’s 16th Infantry Battalion arrived by C-130 plane in Tandag, Surigao Del Sur from Mindoro on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2015..Four battalions are now currently deployed in Surigao del Sur province against the New People’s Amry. MindaNews photo by Froilan Gallardo

Gov. Johnny Pimentel welcomed the soldiers to his province. He said he asked for more Army battalions for deployment to end the problem of insurgency that has plagued their province since 1979.

“Our prayers have been heard. We welcome you here knowing that you can help solve the insurgency problem in our problems,” he said.

Pimentel said their province ranks third nationwide in the number of communist guerrillas, after Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental

“Come election time, these rebels will again harass candidates campaigning in their bailiwicks. This has to stop,” he said.

Pimentel said he sees no problem with the deployment of more troops even if most of the human rights groups and militant left accused the military for allegedly backing up the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani who were identified by witnesses as having killed Emerito Samarca, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), a school for Lumads; and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo on September 1.

“No clear evidence”

“There is no clear evidence that the military is behind the killings or that they are supporting the Lumad killers,” Pimentel told reporters

Pimentel said he is satisfied that the Philippine National Police has put bounties of P1.2 million each for the arrest of suspected Magahat leaders Bobby Tejero, his older brother Loloy and Garito Layno.

He said the bounty will one day help authorities arrest the three suspects.

“The rest of the demands made by the evacuees and human rights groups are not doable at the level of provincial government,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said the demands that could not be met by the provincial government are: pullout of all military troops; suspension of military operations; and resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front.

He said at least 1,000 evacuees are still at the Tandag sports center,  too scared to go back home with the ongoing military operations.

“Unholy alliance”

At the end of the Senate committee hearings on Lumad killings held here on October 1 and 2, Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar said he was still waiting for answers to critical questions about the “apparent unholy alliance between the military and the paramilitary which the military vehemently denies.”

At the hearing, the Bishop told the Senate Committees on Justice and Human Rights, and Cultural Communities that he is “baffled” why, despite the military’s denials of an alliance, Marcial Belandres, one of the leaders of the paramilitary group and principal suspect in the October 2014 killing of Manobo teacher Henry Alameda and Aldren Dumaguit, was among three persons presented as Datus in a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on September 15.

In that press conference, Belandres and company cleared the military of alleged collusion with the paramilitary group and instead pointed to the NPA as the perpetrators of the killings and harassments.

Near home

Lt. Alfredo Bagbag of the 16th Infantry Battalion, who hails from Zamboanga del Sur, carried an AR 15 rifle, pouches of extra bullets and a longing for home. His deployment here makes him “nearer to home and my family,” he said.

Bagbag immediately sought fellow Army officers for the best travel route to Zamboanga del Sur where his family is based.

The commander of the Charlie Company said it is hard for a soldier to see his children growing up without his presence. “I only see them twice a year during my visits. I am hoping I can visit them more now that my battalion is deployed here in Surigao del Sur,” he said.

Lt. Col. Andres Ferrer, commander of the 16th In Infantry Battalion said being a soldier is difficult for the families that are left behind.

Ferrer’s family is based in Iloilo and like Bagbag, he rarely sees them. “That is why I explained to them before we left that soldiers have a sacrifice to make. This is our job.”

Ferrer said many of his men did not have the time to bid their families goodbye when they left Mindoro for Surigao del Sur.

“We just have to man up our emotions. We are professional soldiers and we have a duty to serve the people in Surigao del Sur,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)

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  1. BS Aquino 3rd is really determined to displace the Lumads from their ancestral land before his term ends. That is probably his commitment to his friends who owns the foreign mining companies who wants to dig up the mineral wealth of the Filipino people and exploit their patrimony. All these using the AFP and their para-military criminal cohorts in the service of US imperialism. Instead of addressing the real issues and grievances of the people and the Lumads BS Aquino is showing himself a total tool of the imperialists who probably pays him tons of money to commit all these crimes. BS Aquino 3rd must pay for his crimes !!!

      • Kung traidor man ako sa paningin mo…. di bali na kaysa sa gawing kasangkapan ng kasamaan ng baliw,at teroristang NPA na walang magawa kundi pahirapan pa lalo ang naghihirap nang kalagayan ng mga Lumad. Hingi2x lang ang nalalaman magtrabaho kayo mga TAMAD!!!!

        • Ang labo mo !!! Inaamin mo na traidor ka sa bayan tapos pinagmamalaki mo pa !!! Tsaka hindi NPA ang nagpapahirap sa mga Lumad kundi ang mga military at para-military (yung mga kriminal ba!). Yun and sinasabi ng mga Lumad sa lahat ng tao sa radio, diario, telebisyon, etc. !!!

    • Hakot ??? Ibig mo sabihin binabayaran ang mga Lumad para lumayas sa lupain nila? Tulad ng mga bayarang hakot sa mga rally ng bulok na politiko? Aba, napakaraming pera naman nung nagbabayad sa kanila !!! Sa rally isang araw lang ang bayad sa mga hakot samantala ang mga Lumad mahigit isang taon na pinalayas !!! Baliw ka ba ???

      • Hindi lahat ng Hakot!!! binabayaran Edwin, Mas maka-totohanan sigurong sabihin na tinatakot sila kaysa bayaran!!! parang HARAN COMPOUND scenario lang yan Edwin!, kung marunong kang mag isip ng tama. Yesssss mahigit isang taon na rin kc silang ginagamit at kinikikilan nANG mga baliw na NPA at sa tingin ko isa ka sa kanila.

        • Kung hindi binabayaran ang hakot isa silang mga uto-uto !!! At totoong tinatakot ang mga Lumad !!! Pero ang sabi nila mga militar at mga kaalyadong para-militar nito and tumatakot at pumapatay sa kanila. Hindi ka ba nakikinig sa balita ??? BTW, hindi ako NPA !!!

    • Hazer Bin Laud, Well I guess you are one of those people who are happy about the displacement of the Lumads from their ancestral. You belong to that kind of group no different from the criminal para-militries !!!

      • Edwin, Nobody is happy of what is happening to those Lumads, but majority of the Filipino People is not happy of what the leftist group are doing to them. They are used by NPA’s to malign the government of the Philippines and the AFP because of their successful “OPLAN BAYANIHAN”. Many of the Tribes and Lumads, a majority of them maybe, are now aware of the deceitful doctrines of those rebels and terrorist, which is undoubtedly the NPA’s do not want to happen…. come to think of it.

        • The foreign mining companies are happy about the displacement of the Lumads. They what to come into the ancestral lands of the Lumads to start digging the mineral wealth of the Filipino people !!! These foreign mining companies (who do not pay taxes) must be paying tons of bribe money to high government and military officials to do what they are doing to the Lumads. BTW, Oplan Bayanihan is not a military operation but an assassination program of the military to eliminate unarmed activists, human rights workers, labor and peasant leaders, media people who are critical of the military, etc. etc. etc. Oplan Bayanihan is part and parcel of the program to displace the Lumads !!!


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