Rebel killed, 7 others captured as soldiers overrun NPA ‘training ground’

A suspected rebel was killed and assorted firearms, ammunitions and explosives, and personal belongings were recovered after an armed clash with Army troopers in Miagao, Iloilo on Saturday. (61IB photos)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

A man believed to be a New People’s Army (NPA) combatant was killed after a firefight with Philippine Army troops in Miag-ao, Iloilo.

The armed encountered happened 10:20 a.m. on April 18, three days after both the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and Philippine government ended their respective ceasefires relative to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

Aside from the lone body count, members of the Army’s 61st Infantry (Hunter) Battalion also captured seven suspected NPA members, including a 14-year-old lad.

But for Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara, 61st IB commander, their biggest triumph is the dismantling of the NPA’s alleged temporary training ground.

“From the looks of it, the facility had been set up for about a month already,” he said.

The training for new recruits usually runs from 45 to 90 days.

Batara said they have receiving reports of the NPA’s aggressive recruitment.

But with the government’s truce declaration from March 18 to April 15, they did not conduct any offensive operation.

“We only acted on the reports after the ceasefire ended,” he said.

On Saturday morning, the soldiers continued security operations in Miag-ao which led them to encounter around 40 suspected rebels at Sitio Anoy, Barangay Cabalaunan, Miag-ao.

Batara said the area is around 14 kilometers by air or 21 kilometers by road from the town proper. It is not accessible by four-wheel vehicle.

Batara said the NPA rebels they encountered were members of the Suyak (SDG) Platoon of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay.

The firefight lasted for 35 minutes with the rebels fleeing to different directions, leaving behind their dead comrade.

The 61st IB soldiers also recovered an M1 Garand Rifle with ammunition, a KG9 sub-machine gun, a caliber .45 pistol and holster, two 12-gauge shotguns with 4 ammunitions, a pistol-type homemade shotgun, two improvised explosive devices (IEDs), seven backpacks, two bandoliers, six NPA sweatshirts, two NPA flags, subversive documents and medical paraphernalia.

Batara said the rebels are taking advantage of the current crisis and conducted massive recruitment and trainings among minors.

“Part of their training and test mission is to conduct tactical offensives against government forces and sabotage vital facilities. We will not allow those lawless elements to harass our forces who are helping the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” he said.

Meanwhile, Batara commended the vigilance of the locals in reporting the NPA presence that helped in their successful operation.