Troops thwart Sultan Kudarat CPP anniversary event
Local leaders and soldiers, led by Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, hoisted on Friday the Philippine Flag at Mt. Lumuton after three days of running gunfights with New People’s Army guerillas.
Philstar.com/John Unson

Troops thwart Sultan Kudarat CPP anniversary event

John Unson (Philstar.com) - December 25, 2020 - 3:34pm

SULTAN KUDARAT, Philippines — Seven were killed as soldiers foiled an attempt by hundreds of guerillas to commemorate in Palimbang town Saturday the 52nd founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The seven New People’s Army fatalities were shot dead one after another by personnel of units under the 603rd Infantry Brigade in a series of encounters the past three days in the surroundings of Mount Lumuton in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat.

Local officials hoisted the Philippine flag Friday on a hill surrounded by rainforests where some 200 NPAs converged to celebrate the CPP’s 52nd founding anniversary.

Senior members of the multi-sector municipal peace and order councils in Sultan Kudarat’s adjoining Palimbang, Kalamansig and Lebak towns confirmed Friday the deaths of NPAs Abner Sanchez, Marco Santos, Efren Lantip, Samuel Orinday, Ruben Alferez, Marcial Tenor and Jaime Zapata in the ensuing encounters.

Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said Friday the operation to drive the NPAs away was launched after villagers reported sightings of armed men proceeding to Mount Lumuton early this week from upland towns in South Cotabato province and Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat.

“We are thankful to the local officials and residents of Palimbang for providing tips promptly, enabling us to prevent those NPAs from gathering in Mount Lumuton for their planned commemoration of the founding anniversary of the CPP,” Uy said.

He said credit for the feat has to go partly to Col. Eduardo Gubat, commander of the 603rd Infantry Brigade, and his subordinate-battalion commanders.

Uy said attack helicopters from the Tactical Operations Group 12 of the Philippine Air Force provided fire support to the commando-style offensive that forced the NPAs to scamper away.

Ethnic Teduray farmers Urbano Tandes and Tidew Saliling separately said at least 11 NPAs were wounded in the gunfights.

Kalamansig Vice Mayor Joaquin Concha said an NPA group had killed one of their barangay kagawads and two others in an attack several weeks before.

“My office is open to NPAs wishing to return to the fold of law. We can help return them to their communities where they can peacefully thrive as peaceful residents,” Concha said.

Local officials who joined Friday’s flag raising event in Mt. Lumuton said more than 50 NPAs perished in clashes with soldiers in their municipalities since January.

Abdulsatar Badruddin, executive secretary of the municipal mayor of Palimbang, said their barangay leaders, among them members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, are supporting the military’s anti-NPA campaign.

“Our LGU is calling on the remaining NPAs holding out in the jungles in Palimbang to avail now of the government’s reconciliation program before it is too late. We can help rehabilitate them,” Badrudin said.

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