Camp Bancasi, Butuan City – A gunbattle erupted between government forces and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels during the observance of All Saints’ Day in Southern Mindanao, the Army reported Sunday.
The Army report said combat troops of the 27th Infantry Battalion (27th IB) recovered war materials, including an M16 Armalite rifle, at the scene of the first gunbattle of Lumasal area in Maasim, Sarangani province at 5:30 in the morning on Thursday.
Then there was a 15-minute encounter between patrolling troops of 27th IB and members of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Party Committee that took place at nearby Sitio Kulasisi of that same barangay at 3:45 p.m. on Friday, said regional 10th Infantry (Agila) Division spokesman Capt. Ernest D. Carolina.
“An NPA rebel was killed in the series of gunbattles and an undetermined number of other rebels were believed wounded and were carried away by their fleeing comrades in the northwest direction in Lumasal area of that same province,” said 10th ID spokesman in a press statement.
No one was reported killed or wounded in the government side during those gunbattles, he added.
The regional Army spokesman claimed that the dead body recovered by the operating troops of the 27th IB in Lumasal gunbattle was the ninth casualty for the NPA rebels in the month of October alone.
“There is a big chance more than just nine NPAs were killed and possibly even more were wounded,” he said.
“The NPA traditionally devote extra effort to hide the real number of their casualties. They carry many of them (from the encounter site) and later dispose of the bodies in shallow graves deep in the jungle. There are many documented instances where we were able to dig up these graves and turn the remains over to their families after a simple blessing ceremony,” claimed further Capt. Carolina.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Eduardo M. Año, commanding general of the Southern Mindanao 10th ID lauded his operating troops for their successive efforts on peace and development efforts in their area of jurisdiction.
The general described the month’s success rate as “a result of the continuing cooperation and bayanihan efforts (with the local community).”
Año also expressed his grief for the fallen NPA who may have only been deceived into taking up arms against the government.
“There is no more sense in fighting with the use of arms. We call upon the remaining NPAs to put an end to their armed struggle and instead join us in rebuilding our communities before it’s too late.”
Lt. Gen. Aurelio B. Baladad, the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), who has overall supervision over AFP units in eastern Mindanao, had earlier given out a directive to intensify the campaign against the NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The EastMinCom chief particularly gave emphasis to the protection of flagship national projects and developmental projects which have recently been targeted by NPA attacks and extortion activities.
These bring us several steps closer to creating a development-conducive environment for EastMinCom and its people.”