Troops under the 103rd Infantry (Haribon) Brigade encountered at least ten (10) members of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) commonly known as the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Sabala Bantayao, Lumba Bayabao, Lanao del Sur on Sunday, July 28 at approximately fifteen minutes passed nine o’clock in the morning (9:15 a.m.). The said encounter was a result of a combat operations which was conducted by AFP forces to hunt down approximately one hundred and eighty (180) CTG members who encroached in the said town.
Members from Guerilla Front 12, which is under the Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) 5, entered the town of Lumba Bayabao to conduct a basic military training and to elude military operations in Bukidnon. However, their foraging and extortion activities affected the locals and this prompted the latter to report their presence to military authorities stationed in the said town. Basing on the information the 103rd Infantry Brigade launched an operation utilizing 49th, 55th, and 82nd Infantry Battalions (IB), and the 15th Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC). The troops patrolled in the reported area until personnel from the 49th IB and the 15th DRC discovered their outpost and engaged with the enemy forces. Two (2) were slightly hurt on the government’s side while the casualties on the enemy’s side is yet to be determined.
BGen Romeo S Brawner, the commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade stressed that there is no place for the CTG in Lanao del Sur and that we will exhaust every means available to rid this place of the enemy’s presence and influence. The provincial government of Lanao del Sur earlier declared the CTG (NPA) as persona non grata in the province and pledged their support to the country’s effort to end communist armed conflict. General Brawner also iterated that instead of continuing a futile armed struggle where thousands of innocent citizens are being abused and caught in the crossfire, the CTG members should consider surrendering and avail the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Livelihood and Integration Program (E-CLIP) so that they could enjoy living normal lives and spend quality time with their loved ones. All members and supporters may avail of the E-CLIP program including those who were in the engagement with government troops earlier today. Otherwise they would probably end up in jail or suffer worse consequences.
The CTG (NPA) is also attempting to derail the peace process between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Government in which Lanao del Sur is one of the primary areas in the said peace process.