BANGUED, Abra – The 501st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army called for support of Abrenians in the fight against insurgency as the forces of rebel groups in the province continue to weaken.
B/Gen. Ferdinand Melchor dela Cruz, 501st commanding officer, reported more rebel group supporters are withdrawing and driving them out of local communities, particularly in the Abra-Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur boundaries.
“Iyong mga dati nilang supporters ang nagda-drive out na sa kanila at sila na mismo ang nag-encourage sa kanilang mga kasamahan na sumuko na,” he said.
Dela Cruz recognized the impact of Executive Order 70, which institutionalizes a whole-of-nation approach and creating national and local task forces to End Local Communist Armed-Conflict in the country.
“It is high time we encourage them to surrender and return to mainstream society. Ito ang time na ‘wag na silang katakutan habang mahina na ang pwersa nila,” he said.
Dela Cruz said the Philippine Army will further strengthen its troops in the province as more rebel groups surrender.
“Ibubuhos namin dito kasi habang manipis na sila, ibubuhos namin ang tropa dito kaya pinapakiusap namin na ang mga gusto nang bumaba pero natatakot, mas maiging habang may panahon pa, bumaba na sila. The government is ready to help you,” dela Cruz said.
He said tourism and economic development will flourish once the affected barangays and villages are freed from the influence and infiltration of the rebel groups. The 501st IB oversees two operating Army battalions in the province, the 24th Infantry “Wildcat” Battalion based at Sitio Barbarit, Lagangilang, and the 102nd Infantry “Manso” Battalion based in Barangay Alaoa, Tineg. – Christian Tubadeza