Kalamansig folk want Marines in highland barangays

Peace and Order • Thu May 18, 2017 08:58 AM  •  182   0
By John Unson
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Members of Philippine Marines fire artillery toward the mountains of Kalamansig, Sultan KUdarat following an ambush by rebels on a Marine unit. (file)
Members of Philippine Marines fire artillery toward the mountains of Kalamansig, Sultan KUdarat following an ambush by rebels on a Marine unit. (file)
SULTAN KUDARAT --- Local officials on Thursday recommended the setting up of military detachments in hinterland barangays in Kalamansig town to prevent infiltration by communist rebels.

Personnel of the 6th Marine Battalion, a unit of the 1st Marine Brigade, twice foiled since April twoattempts by New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas to intrude into farming enclaves in upland barangays in Kalamansig.

Mayor Ronan Garcia said on Thursday the presence of Marines and militiamen in the areas in Kalamansig the NPAs from nearby towns have lately been pestering can deter the group’s expansion there.

Garcia is the presiding chairman of the inter-agency, multi-sectoral Kalamansig municipal peace and order council.

The NPAs first showed force in Barangay Hinalaan in Kalamansig last month.
 
They attacked Marine servicemen sent to check their presence in Barangay Hinalaan, whose residents they reportedly forced to shell out “protection money” at gunpoint.

A Marine was killed while several others were wounded in the encounter.

Barangay leaders said the exchange of gunfire waned only when the rebels ran out of ammunition and scampered away carrying their dead and wounded companions.

Another group of NPAs again appeared at nearby Barangay Sangay in the same town on May 15, sparking another encounter with responding Marines.

Barangay officials have since been asking for more military outposts in strategic spots to forestall the return of NPAs trying to establish enclaves in their villages.

“Life would become so difficult for us here if we allow them to come in,” a Lumad barangay official, who requested anonymity for security reasons, said in Filipino.

The Marines recovered from the scene of the May 15 encounter in Barangay Sangay two rifles, an M-16 and an M-14, left as the rebels fled in haste.

Villagers are apprehensive the NPAs, led by a certain Mac-Mac, could return and harass them again if they don’t see heavy military presence in the surroundings.

Personnel of different units of the 1st Marine Brigade are popular for their sustained humanitarian missions in Muslim, Christian and Lumad communities in Sultan Kudarat’s seaside Lebak, Kalamansig and Palimbang towns and in Datu Blah Sinsuat, Maguindanao. 
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