Rebel killed, soldier hurt in fresh skirmishes

A suspected member of the New People’s Army (wrapped in green cloth) was killed in an encounter around 8:15 a.m. of Monday, September 23, at Barangay Ongyod, Miag-ao, Iloilo. (61st Infantry Battalion photo)

By: Jennifer P. Rendon 

SUSPECTED New People’s Army and soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion clashed anew on Sept. 23, 2019, just three days after an encounter in Miag-ao, Iloilo.

Lieutenant Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara, 61st IB commander, confirmed that one of the two clashes happened at Barangay Ongyod, Miag-ao, while the other one erupted in Maasin town around 7:00 a.m. of Monday.

Ongyo was also the scene of a separate armed encounter between the rebels and state troopers last week.

But Captain Cenon Pancito III, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman, considered the Maasin encounter as a diversionary tactic by the rebel group.

“They fired at a distance of more than 100 meters from a military detachment. There was clearly no intention to overrun the detachment nor engage the troops,” he said.

Instead, Pancito said it was a ploy of the rebels to force the military to let loose of their grip at Southern Panay, particularly Miag-ao town.

“They want us to divert our focus from pursuing the group of Ceralvo,” Pancito said.

Ceralvo is Joven Ceralvo alias Lex, the leader of the NPA’s Suyak Platoon, Southern Front is the Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay (KR-P).

During the Sept. 20 clash, two rebels were also wounded, as claimed by the rebel group.

“They can’t easily leave the barangay carrying their two wounded comrades; hence, they created a diversionary tactic, but failed to do so,” Batara said.

After one hour of the Maasin harassment, an encounter erupted at Barangay Ongyod, which left one rebel killed.

Batara said the body of the unidentified NPA terrorist was left behind by his fleeing comrades.

“Our troops are pursuing the same group of communist-terrorists we engaged in the same barangay last Friday when the encounter happened. This group is hampering not only development projects in the area but also the people’s peaceful life which prompted the community to report their presence,” Batara said.

The troops also recovered an M16 rifle, an anti-personnel mine, medicines, backpacks, scope, kitchen utensils, and voluminous subversive documents with high intelligence value.

During the encounter, one soldier was slightly wounded on his legs,

But Batara said he is now in stable condition.

Meanwhile, Batara encouraged other civilians to report any untoward activities in their communities and contact the government forces immediately if there is presence of CPP-NPA members in the area.

On the other hand, Major Gen. Dinoh Dolina, 3ID commander, called on the rebel group to look into the welfare of their comrades.

“Don’t leave them. They are also Filipinos. Surrender them to the government for them to avail proper medical attention. Your Army will be happy to accept and help your injured companions,” Dolina said.

He also vowed to continue pursuing the CPP-NPA, as he stressed that they could not win the war against the government.

“Many of your comrades died and waste their lives in pursuing senseless and bloody armed struggle. While you still have time, better surrender now or suffer the same fate,” he said.