TANDAG CITY, Surigao del Sur, Jan 22 -- A concerned Indigenous People (IP) member in Diatagon, Lianga, revealed on January 21, the plans of the Communist New People's Army (NPA) terrorists (CNTs) to harass the Community Support Teams of the 9th Special Forces "Hounds" Company and the IP community in Sitio Simuwao (Kilometer 9), Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
Alias Uway (who requested anonymity for security reasons) said that before the lifting of ceasefire from January 3 to 6, the leaders, and members of the Weakened Guerilla Front 19 (WGF19) and Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa mga Sumusunod (MAPASU), a militant and an alleged CNT-affiliated group conducted a meeting in Sitio Panukmuan, a far-flung sitio of Diatagon. Accordingly, they plan to harass the government troops in Kilometer 9 despite the presence of innocent civilians. Alia Uway said, he overheard the meeting since he was invited by a friend, who was also a MAPASU member.
"Nagplano ang MAPASU na irequest sa armado nga harason ang komunidad sa Kilometer 9 para magbakwit ang mga tao (MAPASU plans to request the armed group to harass the community of Kilometer 9 so that the people will evacuate). Nireport ko agad kasi may pamilya ako sa Kilometer 9," Alias Uway said.
The 3rd Special Forces "Arrowhead" Battalion (3SFBn), on the other hand, is still validating the veracity of the information and this will not be taken lightly as this involves innocent civilians who are now working hard to attain lasting peace in the sitio through the various government programs and delivery of basic services.
Lt. Colonel Joey Baybayan, 3SFBn Commanding Officer, said that this might be the desperate move of the CNTs to hamper the development in the area and once again trigger IPs' displacement, then falsely accuse and demonize the military on the harassment.
"They are trying to preempt the peace in the sitio because they are now on the losing end. Survival mode na sila at hirap na sila makagalaw dahil sa Whole-Of-Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. Gusto nila guluhin ang sitio para matakot uli ang mga tao, then, magbakwit nanaman para magkaroon ng rason to remove military presence in the community," LTC Baybayan said.
"Whatever happens, we will not leave the area as ordered by our Commander-in-Chief and until the objectives of the Surigao del Sur Task Force to end Insurgency are attained," he added.
The 3SFBn official, further, said that in fairness to the group, they will continue to reach out to the MAPASU leadership for dialogues and hear their side since this is, by far, still an allegation and they cannot just accuse anyone.
"If there will be no harassments, well and good. If the allegation will materialize, then we already have a lead and suspects and this would only mean that the report against the alleged meeting and plot of MAPASU and the Communist NPA Terrorists to harass the Community Support Teams and the community is true and criminal charges will be filed against them as we have a witness," said Colonel Allan Hambala, 401st Brigade Commander.
"If they will harass the community, mas magagalit ang mga tao sa kanila because the terroristic act will definitely be condemned by the peace-loving IPs in the sitio," Colonel Hambala added. (Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, 3SFBn/PIA-Surigao del Sur)