Clashes erupt anew between Army troops and suspected NPA in Iloilo

Some of the firearms and other items believed to have been left behind by suspected rebels who figured in more clashes in Miagao, Iloilo recently. (61IB photo)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

The sound of gunfire has returned in a remote part of Iloilo province, marking a series of skirmishes between the 61st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Brigadier General Michael Samson, commander of the 301st Infantry Brigade, reported that on Monday, March 4, three related encounters occurred.

The initial confrontation took place in Barangay Igsolegue, Miag-ao, at approximately 4:40 p.m. This was followed by a brief respite before gunfire resumed around 6 p.m. in the neighboring Barangay Igcabito-on, Miag-ao.

After 18 minutes, another bout of gunfire erupted within the same village.

“It’s continuous clashes between the remnants of the same group that we encountered in San Joaquin several days ago,” Samson explained.

While no casualties have been reported on the government side, the possibility of casualties among the NPA remains unclear.

The army’s initial clearing operations led to the retrieval of an M16 rifle, a .45 caliber Colt pistol, a rifle grenade, a commercial radio, and a bandolier.

Samson estimated that approximately ten NPA rebels were involved in the skirmish with the pursuing soldiers.

“They’re on the run. Their number is dwindling.”

The initial clash between the 61IB troops and about 20 members of the NPA’s Southern Front took place in the early morning of February 28 at Barangay Torocadan, San Joaquin.

The following day witnessed another exchange of fire with the same group in Barangay Camabaan, San Joaquin, resulting in four suspected NPA rebels dead and another injured.

One of the deceased was identified as Rena Rhea Camariosa, also known as Kira, daughter of the Southern Front’s Puregold Platoon leader Nahum Camariosa, alias Bebong. Her body was discovered abandoned in a nipa hut in Barangay Camabaan, San Joaquin, Iloilo, around 7 a.m. on February 29.

In addition to the human toll, the soldiers also confiscated four M16 Armalite rifles, an AK47 rifle, three bandoliers, various magazines loaded with ammunition for M16 and AK47 rifles, nine backpacks, and a commercial radio.