Threat from NPA remains
By Leonardo Micua
WHILE I was watching the Senate hearing about the red-tagging issue on YouTube that caused the Makabayan bloc to protest, our attention was called about an ongoing hot pursuit operations by the military against some 40 armed New People’s Army terrorists in the outskirts of Mangatarem town.
A PNP report the following day, Nov. 25, explained what really happened. It said troops of the 702nd brigade of the Philippine Army patrolled the Pangasinan-Tarlac boundary in Mangatarem at around 5.30 a.m. in response to a tip from residents about the presence of armed men in their area.
It turned out that the armed men belonging to the Kilusang Larangang Gerilya (KLG) Tarlac-Zambales front were camped out in the vicinity of Barangay Lawak Langka in Mangatarem.
On seeing the soldiers on patrol, the NPAs fired at them and a firefight ensued. The patrol called for reinforcements and the Army fired a 105 howitzer cannon six times in the direction of the NPA band’s location.
According to Major Marco Antonio Magisa, spokesman of the AFP-Northern Luzon Command based at Camp Aquino, Tarlac, the patrol did not suffer any casualty but some civilians relayed reports that the wounded and the dead among the NPA were bodily-carried by their comrades as they escaped toward Zambales where they came from.
This firefight confirms that the NPA has already crossed the border into Pangasinan and the province may no longer enjoy an insuregency-free status.
That NPA camp in Barangay Lawak Langka definitely poses a serious threat to Pangasinan, because there is also a KLG group in the borders of Pangasinan with Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya.
Fortunately, with the the close cooperation of the military and civilian populace, the Army’s 702nd infantry brigade got wind of their presence early enough and routed them before they could expand their operations.
Thanks to the military and the police for acting swiftly on a potential flashpoint in the heart of Pangasinan. With Mangatarem as jump off point, the NPA could easily move to Lingayen which is only 20 kilometers away. From there, they can next take Dagupan, the business and economic center of the province.
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Methinks, the NPA misjudged the temperament and mindset of the Pangasinenses. They did not realize that they have no room in a province whose people are peace-loving, God-fearing and shun terrorism.
Moreover, the people are closely knit and have developed kinship with one another. Pangasinenses will certainly not give up their freedom for a lost cause. Nor can they be swayed by sweet talks from so-called legal fronts of the underground movement that are teeming in our midst.
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In its last virtual session, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan agreed to shorten the curfew hours in Pangasinan by just one hour, not three to four-hours reduction as requested by the business sector.
According to Fourth District BM Ming Rosario, the legislative body believes that COVID-19 is still around the corner and fears it could spread some more during the Christmas season when social and physical distancing will be relegated to the back seat during family reunions and parties.
This fear was confirmed by General Carlito Galvez, the COVID-19 response czar, who said he will convene the national IATF to discuss measures that will be taken to contain the upsurge of coronavirus disease during the Christmas season.
Even the World Health Organization, seconded by the Department of Health, warned that the COVID-19 situation may exacerbate some more during the Christmas season, and suggested the scrapping of Christmas reunions and parties.
In Dagupan, where curfew hours are shorter (from 12 midnight to 4:00 a.m.), it seems the local LGU cannot restrain crowds from flocking to the Quintos and Perez bridges for their Facebook and Instagram photos with the costly sparkling lights in the background. Worse, many are without face masks and face shields and do not observe social distancing.
A post on Facebook already called the attention of Gen. Galvez to the serious breach of health and safety protocols by bridge habitues at night, moving around without the required face masks and face shields.
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The pronouncement of Education Secretary Leonor Briones that soon some face-to-face instructions will be allowed is like music to the ears of students, parents, education stakeholders, including jeepney, tricycle drivers and street vendors.
But Briones’ reason for allowing limited face-to-face classes was not as expected: she wants the production of learning modules reduced to save on paper, and eventually the trees.
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