Army troops pursue NPAs; rebel slain, 5 soldiers hurt

>> Thursday, August 3, 2017

By Freddie Lazaro

SALCEDO, Ilocos Sur – Government forces are now pursuing New People’s Army guerillas they figured in a recent clash wherein a female rebel was killed while several comrades were wounded in Barangay Siroan, Salcedo, Ilocos Sur. Lt. Col Eugenio Julio C. Osias IV, commander of the Philippine Army’s 81st Infantry Battalion based in Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur, Monday said his troops are in pursuit of the rebels, who retreated aboard a four-wheeled vehicle after the encounter.
Five soldiers were wounded and last listed in stable condition.
They were identified as 2nd Lieutenant Jade Lyzterdan P. Gavino, Corporal Robertson Caalim, Private First Class (PFCs) Jayson B. Aboc, John Joshua M. Toledo and Jefree L. Alferez.
“Our troops had an encounter with more or less 12 NPA rebels at the vicinity of Barangay Sorioan which resulted in a 30-minute gunfight. The encounter led to the recovery of 20 rounds of M14 ammunitions, improvised explosive device (IED), cleaning gears, documents and other personal necessities,” Osias said.
He said the 81st IB conducted intensive military operations in response to information provided by the local community, which reported that NPA rebels, who were members of Platun South Ilocos Sur (Platun SIS) were planning to stage attacks.
He said the rebels were planning to set up an explosive device in the populated area in synchronization with the rally which was set in time for President Duterte’s second state of the nation address.
“The collective efforts of the soldiers on the ground and   the cooperation of  the local residents are what we need to finally attain peace for the people of Ilocos Sur,” said Col. Henry A. Robinson Jr., the commander of the army’s 702nd brigade.
Senior Supt. Jovencio Badua, Ilocos Sur Police Provincial Office director who rushed to the battle site, said heavily-armed guerrillas ambushed the troopers from the army’s 81st Infantry Battalion at 10:15 a.m. on July 2.
The squad of 10 army soldiers led by 2nd Lt. Gavino came under heavy fire that resulted to wounding of the five troopers, but they returned fire and also inflicted casualties on the rebel side, said Badua who quoted civilian witnesses.
A running gun battle ensued, prompting Lt. Col. Osias, commanding officer of the 81 IB to send additional forces to Barangay Sorioan.
The encounter in Ilocos Sur comes two days after high-ranking officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region 1 declared the neighboring province La Union as insurgency-free.
Major General Angelito M. De Leon, the commander of the army’s 7th Infantry Division based in the Ilocos Region, reaffirmed the status of La Union as insurgency-free during the 2nd quarter meeting of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in Diego Silang in San Fernando City, La Union.
A couple of days before that in Abra, eight NPA guerrillas belonging to the Sangay Organization under the Militia ng Bayan surrendered to the Abra PPO and the army’s 24th Infantry Battalion.
Chief Supt. Elmo Sarona, regional director of the Cordillera police, said the surrenderees pledged to support plans and programs of the government as they laid down their arms.
Likewise, a rebel known as “Ka Belly Joy” and Ka Bibeth” surrendered to the army’s 17th Infantry Battalion based in Masin, Alcala, Cagayan.

Lt. Col. Camilo A. Saddam said he hopes more guerrillas will find it in their hearts to return to the fold of the law and enjoy the benefits and privileges of being a citizen under the duly-elected government. -- With reports from Freddie G. Lazaro and Liezle Basa Iñigo


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