PUERTO PRINCESA CITY: Inspite of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), communist insurgents in northern Palawan shot dead two members of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 12 (MBLT-12) on Wednesday morning.
Senior Supt. Gabriel Lopez, Palawan police provincial director, said the Marines were gunned down at about 8:15 a.m. by two suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) near Magara Elementary School in Barangay Magara, Roxas town.
He added that the battalion was on its way back to its detachment in Magara from the public market when attacked.
The victims suffered at least five gunshot wounds in different parts of the body and one had a bullet in the head.
The rebels, described as young, reportedly fled to Sitio Iraan, Magara.
Lopez said the attack could be a retaliation by the communist insurgents after the military seized their training camp in Barangay Samariñana, Brooke’s Point, in southern Palawan a month ago.
Captain Cheryl Tindog, public information officer of the Western Command (WesCom), said the identities of the two Marines were being withheld until their next of kin are informed.
She added that despite a roadside bombing that wounded another Marine on Tuesday afternoon in the municipality of Bataraza and the killing of two other Marines on Wednesday, WesCom continues its focused civil and military operations in Palawan to support peace and development in the area.
“The insurgents are now desperate because WesCom’s civil military operations are winning and continuously building stronger ties with many communities in the province,” Tindog said.
Lt. Gen. Ferdinand Quidilla, commanding officer of the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), said, “It is very disturbing to know that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) directed its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to step up its offensives because of the implementation of martial law in Mindanao. These blatant actions take advantage of the situation while the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines],focuses its operation for the immediate restoration of peace and order in Marawi City [Lanao del Sur].”
He added that the CPP-NPA is insincere in resolving insurgency and attaining just and lasting peace in the country.
“The President’s decision to declare martial law in Mindanao was meant to restore law and order, protect the lives of the citizens and their property. We firmly believe that the President has only the best intentions for the country,” the Solcom commander said.
“Let us be vigilant, report any unusual observations or any form of terrorism and criminality and pray for the early resolution of the situation in Marawi City,” he added.