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Army assures safety of Ilocos Sur residents amid armed conflict

VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur (PIA) – The Philippine Army’s 501st Infantry Brigade (501IBde) has assured the safety of the residents of Ilocos Sur province amid the ongoing armed conflict between the government troops and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels at Barangay Nagcanasan in Pilar town, Abra province.
Brig. Gen. Ferdinand Melchor Dela Cruz, commander of the 501IBde, said that the Philippine Army is taking all necessary measures to prevent the return of Communist Terrorist Groups (CTG) in the Ilocos Region, keeping it free from insurgency.
He said, "Our mandate at the Philippine Army is to prevent the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTG) from returning to llocos Sur and the llocos Region. The unfortunate events that took place yesterday are a wake-up call for them, reminding them that they are not welcome in the Ilocos Region.”
“To the people of Santa Maria, llocos Sur, we apologize for any inconvenience caused, but we will take all necessary measures to ensure that the CTGs do not return to your municipality," Dela Cruz said during the PIA Ilocos Sur Information Center’s Serbisyo Publiko Media Forum on Wednesday, April 3.

Brig. Gen. Ferdinand Melchor Dela Cruz (R), commander of the 501IBde, answers questions during the Serbisyo Publiko Media Forum on April 3 hosted by PIA Ilocos Sur Information Center Manager Joyah Quimoyog (L). (Joyah Quimoyog, PIA Ilocos Sur)

The first exchange of fire was reported on Tuesday, April 2, at around 11:50 a.m., in the boundary of Barangay Nagcanasan in Pilar town, Abra and Barangay Babalasioan in Santa Maria town, Ilocos Sur.
According to Dela Cruz, troops of the 50th Infantry Battalion (50IB) under the 501IBde were carrying out security operations in response to a report from residents about the presence of armed individuals in the area when they were engaged in a firefight with alleged members of the North Abra Guerrilla Front (KLG North Abra) of the NPA.
The gunfire lasted for five minutes and resulted in a series of encounters.
As of Wednesday morning, government troops are still pursuing NPA rebels in Pilar's mountainous area.
Unfortunately, Dela Cruz said a soldier was injured while they were verifying NPA casualties.
“The unfortunate event that transpired in Pilar, Abra serves as evidence that the NPA rebels are seeking shelter in certain areas of the Ilocos Region, which was previously declared insurgency-free,” he said.
“Due to the community's cooperation, it is now easier for the government troops to locate them when they enter the Ilocos area as their presence is reported immediately to the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police," Dela Cruz added.
According to the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office of Santa Maria town, the 75 families who evacuated from Barangay Gusing on Tuesday evening have returned home as of Wednesday afternoon.
However, as of 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 83 individuals from Sitio Paring of Barangay Babalasioan are still in the evacuation area at Pilar town along with other evacuees from Abra province.
The provincial government of Ilocos Sur provided family kits and food packs to the evacuees. (JCR/AMB/JMCQ, PIA Ilocos Sur)

About the Author

Joyah Mae Quimoyog


Region 1

A writer based in the heritage province of Ilocos Sur.

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