Government troops recovered firearms and explosives from abandoned rebel hideouts in different hinterland barangays in Palawan following the execution of simultaneous focus military operations (FMOs) over the weekend.
3rd Marine Brigade (3MBde) civil-military operations officer Capt. Ellaine Rose Collado, in an issued statement August 31, said the “relentless” FMOs performed by Marine Battalion Landing Teams (MBLTs) 3 and 4, 65th Marine Company, and other units resulted in the recovery of the firearms and explosives that included five M14A1 rifles, 13 anti-personnel mines, and 32 improvised hand grenades.
Gallon and half-gallon canisters full of explosives, as well as small-size homemade hand grenades in PVC pipes, were among the anti-personnel mines found, she said.
Col. Jimmy Larida, commander of the 3MBde, claimed in the press statement that their soldiers found them on August 28 after receiving information from locals.
“Napakahalaga ng pakikipagtulungan ng mga Palaweño sa tagumpay ng operasyon na ito. Kaya hinihikayat namin ang publiko na ipagpatuloy ang pagbibigay ng impormasyon na makakatulong sa ating gobyerno, lalo na sa ating kasundaluhan upang mapigilan ang anumang tangkang karahasan ng teroristang grupo na maaaring ikapahamak ng mga inosenteng sibilyan,” Larida said
On July 12 and 13, 2021, Larida said rebels belonging to the New People’s Army (NPA) engaged marine forces conducting Community Support Program (CSP) in Barangay Nicanor Zabala, Roxas, resulting in the seizure of weapons and other war supplies abandoned by fleeing insurgents, as well as the injuring of government troops by anti-personnel mines.
He believes that the recovery of the weapons and explosives indicates that many rebels have already given up support to the NPA.
“Ang pagkakakubkob ngayon ng ating kasundaluhan sa mga gamit ng CTG (communist terrorist group) ay isang indikasyon na marami na ang nag-abandona sa grupo at basta na lang iniwan ang kanilang mga baril at mga gamit pampasabog,” he said.
Residents’ unwavering support for efforts of the Palawan Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF ELCAC), he added, is an encouraging trend that has already resulted in reduced NPA recruitment and widespread withdrawal of allegiance.
Larida urged the province’s remaining NPA members to surrender and return to the government so that they can take advantage of its programs for rebel returnees, such as the E-CLIP under the Palawan PTF ELCAC, and be reunited with their families, especially during the holiday season approaches.