CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 25 Jan) – Unmanned aerial drones flying over the skies of Misamis Oriental have provided vital information to military commanders hunting down the New People’s Army rebels in the mountains.
In highlighting the role of drones, Lt. Colonel Christian Uy, commander of the 58th Infantry Battalion, said information from the “eye of the sky” have allowed them to know the whereabouts of the rebels.
“Even if the rebels are hiding in the deep mountain gullies, the drones can spot them. The technology has improved that much,” Uy said.
The Philippine Air Forces operates from the Lumbia military airbase here light plane-sized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) it acquired from Israel.
One of those drones, the Hermes 900 built by Elbit Systems, crashed near a popular resort in Baungon town in neighboring Bukidnon province last May 28, 2022.
Uy said information from the UAV helped the military to launch military operations against the NPA rebels operating in Misamis Oriental.
He said the military operations have crippled the strength of the NPA rebels from four platoons to one.
“At some point the rebels numbered around 100 armed fighters. Now they are downed to 20 to 25 fighters and we are hunting them wherever they are,” Uy said.
The military presented to the Misamis Oriental Provincial Peace and Order Council last Tuesday eight NPA fighters who surrendered because of the relentless military operations.
“We were always on the run. We subsisted on root crops because our food supply line from the villages were disrupted,” said Jorinelle Remadavia, alias “ Rambo,” an NPA political officer and one of the eight rebels who surrendered.
Remadavia said they slept in the mountain gullies by slinging their hammocks on trees to avoid military patrols.
“We lost the political will and I decided to surrender and go back to my family,” he said.
Remadavia said the rebels lost the support of its mass base as one of the major reasons why the NPA is losing the insurgency war against the military. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)