|(Troops on Alert)|
GOVERNMENT forces are on alert against attacks that may be perpetrated by the communist New People’s Army throughout the country as part of its celebration of its 46th foundation anniversary on March 29.
“Traditionally, through the years, the NPA launch what they call tactical offensives against government installations and military units, the lightly-defended outposts, in isolated areas,” AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said yesterday.
Cabunoc said soldiers will be vigilant, especially in areas where there is heavy NPA presence, including the Davao and Caraga region where more than half of the rebel group’s strength of about 3,000 men are said to be based.
“Our soldiers are preparing measures to confront any armed threats in known NPA areas, in areas where they (rebels) have heavy presence…Our soldiers are ready to accomplish their mission and in protecting the people from the NPA bandits,” he said.
NPA rebels are known to launch attacks against military, police and even civilian targets to commemorate their anniversary. The attacks include ambuscades and raids of military positions.
“The Armed Forces is anticipating possible violent attacks to be staged by the NPA bandits. That is why the unit commanders (of the military) on the ground area always preparing contingencies to addressing possible NPA attacks,” said Cabunoc.
Cabunoc said the military leadership is not yet ordering the declaration of a nationwide Red Alert, the highest military alert status, as a precaution in connection with the celebration of the NPA anniversary.
“That is already dependent on the assessment of the military units, if they are going to declare Red Alert because that will effectively cancel the leaves of all soldiers. That is already the prerogative of a unit commander,” he said.
Cabunoc said there is heavy presence of communist rebels in mining areas such as Compostela Valley and Agusan del Sur because the insurgents are preying on mining companies.
“These (areas) are rich in resources and these are where they are able to collect (extortion money) from businessmen. These are where they have many guerrilla fronts,” he added.
Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division which operates in the Davao region, has ordered field units under him to intensify security to thwart possible NPA attacks.