The Armed Forces of the Philippines said yesterday that combat military operations against communist rebels have resumed after President Duterte ended the five-month government ceasefire over the weekend.
AFP Public Affairs Office chief Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo disclosed during an interview that the resumption of combat operations was in line with the Chief Executive’s pronouncement to go after communist rebels, especially those who commit atrocities to the people.
“Right now with the unilateral ceasefire and the suspension of military operation already lifted, we are currently conducting combat operations as response to complaints coming from the people of the atrocities being committed by NPA rebels,” Arevalo said. “There are reports of extortion activities, there are reports of IED being planted. Some also complained that they are being threatened and harass by NPA rebels,” he added.
Arevalo also said that efforts are being made to locate the whereabouts of three soldiers – Sgt. Solaiman Calocop and Private First Class Samuel Garay, both of the 39th Infantry Battalion based in Makilala, Cotabato, and Private First Class Erwin R. Salan of the 30th IB – kidnapped by suspected New People’s Army rebels in Min-danao recently.
“We have not received any latest reports on that but what I know up to this time is they are still considered missing and their whereabouts still yet to be determined,” Arevalo said.
They were not hostile or aggressive when they were taken by the enemy, according to Arevalo.
Calocop and Garay were abducted in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat while onboard a motorcycle on their way to their battalion headquarters.
On the other hand, Salan, deployed as a member of the Peace and Development Team, was abducted while conducting a forest clean up drive with active youth volunteers were within the vicinity of Lumondo Falls in Barangay Budlingin, Alegria, Surigao del Norte. (FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD)