BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The commander of an Army brigade here said government will be using precision bombs should the military decide to conduct airstrikes against Communist rebels who could be holed up in the uplands of a northern Negros town.
“A military commander will use whatever resources are available to accomplish the mission,” Brigadier General Innocencio Pasaporte, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade told DNX.
Pasaporte was sought by DNX for reaction on the statement released today by the Roselyn Jean Pelle Command that claimed the 79th Infantry Battalion has a plan “to conduct aerial strike at Mandalagan Mountain Range, part of the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP), in Barangay Minapasuk Calatrava town. The news came out days after the staged fake encounter on June 22 at the said barangay.”
The 79th based in Sagay City is one of the area battalions under Pasaporte’s command and covers the province’s first to fifth political districts and this city.
Cecil Estrella, the NPA spokesperson who signed the statement, said they are “alarmed” over reports from residents in upland Calatrava that they are “forced to evacuate the forested area for the planned aerial bombardment by the fascist 79th IB-PA troops.”
Estrella also claimed someone informed them that the 79th is targeting Tinibiangan, Ekogan, Nabaisan, Calanugan, Victory and Yamingon, all sub-village of the upland community of Minapasuk.
Pasaporte, however, described the statement of Estrella as a “desperate attempt to delay” the NPA’s certain defeat in the province’s north.
He pointed out that by howling over a supposed airstrike, the NPA’s remnants in the north have confirmed that they are only a handful left “trying to survive with little resources and no popular support.”
The Army officer added that the government now has precision or smart bombs that would allow them to hit targets accurately with none or little collateral damage
He also said they might use OV10 Bronco or the newer Super Tucano, both light attack aircraft in their bombing runs.
The Super Tucano planes were bought by government under the term of then President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Northern Negros Front of the NPA, Pasaporte had earlier said, used to be a “signicant contributor” to the P25 million annual income of the rebels from their so-called revolutionary taxes or what the military calls as extortion activities.
The Army’s Third Infantry Division had reported last year that it had been “dismantled.”
Early this month, the 79th also captured in Calatrava town the front’s suspected deputy secretary, Isabelle Necesario.
August, last year, 79th IB soldiers also killed Kerima Tariman, reportedly the Front’s secretary, in a clash in the mountain village of Kapitan Ramon in Silay City.