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Philippine on standby; may declare red alert on March 29

DAGUPAN CITY, March 10 (PNA)--The 702nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army remains on blue alert with its soldiers on standby in their camps but may shift to red alert on March 29 when the terrorist New People's Army (NPA) will observe its founding anniversary and may commit atrocities.

This was bared by Capt. Jay- Ar Ramos, public information officer of the 702nd IB based at Camp Tito Abat in Manaoag in a talk during the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters (KBP) Forum in Dagupan City on Thursday, March 9.

At the same time, Ramos belied the alleged report that the NPAs were seen in some parts of eastern Pangasinan especially after the rebels torched two trucks of Philex Mines in Sitio Tupac, Ampucao,Itogon, Benguet on February 9, this year, while bringing ore from the mine site to Poro Point in San Fernando City, La Union.

"We checked the report and it turned out negative," said Ramos, adding that the people in the area mentioned could not also validate the report.

There was also no movement of rebels in the western part of Pangasinan near the Zambales border, Ramos reported.

The other recorded atrocity of the NPA in the area of operations of 702nd IB was the burning of two elf trucks of Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco in Sigay, Ilocos Sur in January this year.

"Our part is focused on anti- insurgency. If we received information from our men in the field or the barangays, we passed this on to the PNP for validation, Ramos explained

He said the Philippine Army continues to conduct its anti-insurgency operations to deter rebel atrocities amid the order of President Rodrigo Duterte lifting the ceasefire that was put in place between the government and the NPA in connection with the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Oslo, Norway that was later on aborted.

He said the Philippine Army is open if there are rebels who will surrender but their anti-insurgency operations will continue until there is an order from higher headquarters to stop.

He also assured the Armed Forces of the Philippines will support the resumption of peace talks with the Reds.

He maintained that the NPAs are avoiding clash with the Philippine military in a bid to save their force, short of belittling the NPA's capability to wage a frontal shooting war with the government.

In their atrocities, they are actually conducting sabotaging operations to embarrass the government, Ramos said in Filipino, referring to the NPAs.

Asked if there are already extortion activities perpetrated by the NPA in Pangasinan, Ramos said they have not received any report of any private company paying alleged revolutionary taxes to the rebels in their areas of operation so far.

However, he asked these private companies to feel free to contact the Philippine Army should there be any attempt by the rebels to extort money from them.

He said the 702nd IB is continuously coordinating with the PNP and conducting joint checkpoints in strategic areas as well as monitoring and providing security to flagship projects, which include the wind farm in Ilocos Norte, the Sual Coal-fired Power Plant and the San Roque Multi-purpose Dam, both in Pangasinan.

When asked by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), soldiers of 702nd IB provide area security when they conduct anti-illegal drugs operations, Ramos said. (PNA)
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