Army, rebels clash anew in Miag-ao town

Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara, 61st IB commander (Photo Courtesy of 61st IB Facebook)

By: Jennifer P. Rendon

AFTER months of silence, suspected New People’s Army (NPA) sounded off their presence through an encounter with elements of Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry (Hunter) Battalion.

Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara, 61st IB commander, said the clash happened at Barangay Ongyod, Miagao, Iloilo at around 11 a.m. of Sept. 20, 2019.

Batara said the soldiers were conducting combat operations at the vicinity when the incident happened.

“We received reports from residents about the presence of local terrorists in the area,” he said.

True enough, they encountered around 15 rebels from the Suyak Platoon, Southern Front, Komiteng Rehiyon – Panay (KR-P) led by Joven Ceralvo alias Lex.

Batara said they received information that Ceralvo’s group planned to attack military and police detachments and sabotage operations targeting the Century Peak Energy Company, a hydro-energy plant based in Igbaras town.

No casualty on the government side was reported.

On the other hand, sources revealed that there were several wounded on the enemy side, Batara said.

Meanwhile, Batara commended the vigilance and cooperation of the civilians who reported the presence and activities of the CPP-NPA in the area.

“This is an indication that the locals are indeed tired of the atrocities perpetrated by the CPP-NPA terrorists and no longer welcome their presence in the community,” he said.

Batara assured that 61st IB soldiers will continue conducting relentless military operations in the area in response to the repeated threat of NPAs to the local residents and to the development projects in the area, Batara said.

“We will continue to pressure the enemy and run after the fleeing CPP-NPA terrorists to prevent them from harming our people and hampering the development in Panay,” Batara added.

It can be noted that the encounter happened a day after the disposition of arms and forces of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawà Pilipinas – Revolutionary Proletarian Army – Alex Boncayao Brigade – Tabara Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG).

The last known encounter between government troops and the NPAs happened April 23 in Lambunao town.

This latest encounter was 12th in Panay this year.