ZAMBOANGA CITY – Soldiers and policemen have been warned against the resurgence of the sparrow unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) in their locality.
The sparrow units are the hit men of the NPA in urban areas with the primary mission to kill lawmen and government officials. They were active in the late eighties.
President Rodrigo Duterte issued the warning during his “talk to men” at the Edwin Andrew Air Base (EAAB) saying they should be vigilant of their security and safety.
“Be careful, they (sparrow hit men) are active now,” the President told the troops.
The resurgence followed an order by the NPA hierarchy to intensify its attacks on government forces in the country after the President canceled the peace talks with the NPA.
Duterte told the soldiers and policemen to be watchful of their surroundings, especially at home, saying two to three soldiers die daily from “sparrow” attacks in the entire country.
The President said some of the troops were killed at home while others while doing marketing chores for the command.
Duterte said there are times different persons would conduct the surveillance on probable targets and other individuals would strike.
He also told the troops to avoid loitering in stores and public places as they are vulnerable targets.
“Those are the things you have to be very, very careful [about], especially if you are carrying firearms,” he said, adding, “they are after the firearms.”
He said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has proposed the so-called “TienDa ng Bayan” to protect the troops from attacks by NPA sparrow unit.
The “TienDA ng Bayan” will serve as the market place where troops can purchase food supply and other needs at home or for the office.
Meanwhile, President Duterte has awarded medals to 33 military officers and personnel in recognition of their service to the country.
The awardees for the Order of Lapu-Lapu (Kampilang Medal) were: Maj. Velmor Manaois; Capt. Dimas Jun Balai; 2Lt. Nathan Rey Eucare; SSgt. Ramonito Diapolet; Sgt. Ramises Relos; Sgt. Joemarie Perez; Cpl. Jovith Clamotcha; PFC Winston Tangilan; PFC Vladimir Ramos, represented by his mother, Susan; PFC Jefry Jacinto; and, PFC Jay Ar Nogodula.
The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said they sustained wounds while participating in the campaign against the Daesh-inspired foreign and local terrorists under Isnlon Hapilon and Omar Maute for almost five months from May 23 to October 2017 in Marawi City.
The President also awarded the Order of Lapu-Lapu (Kamagi Award) to the following: Lt Col. Joel Mamon; Lt. Col. Alvin Luzon; Lt. Col. Jonathan Hallara; Maj. Jimmy Brey; Maj. Mark Anthony Salvador; Maj. Virgilio Sagge; Maj. Reese James Obeso; Capt. Jefferson Santos; Capt. Joffrey Tacusalme; Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay; Capt. Michaelangelo Castro; 1st Lieutenant Albert Alvarez; 1st Lieutenant Jefferson Balante; 1st Lieutenant Junrey Sajulga; 2nd Lieutenant Rojean Rodriguez; Ensign Al Khaizer Amil; 2nd Lieutenant Jeff Brandon Cruz; Ensign Leo Adrianne Bello; MSgt. Rolly Principe; Underwater Operator 2nd Class Edgar Enojo; Underwater Operator 2nd Class Glenn Reus; and, Builders Utility 2nd Class Teodorico Decenan.
They were awarded for their exceptional performance and their active participation and contribution to the campaign against local and foreign terrorists during the five-month Marawi siege, according to the Westmincom.
Aside from medals, the President also gave tokens to the awardees. – with reports from Ely E. Dumaboc/PNA