Two members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed during an encounter with government security forces in Barangay Pag-asa, Alabel of Sarangani province on Friday.
Col. Robert Ancan, commander of the Philippine Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade, said the encounter with about 15 NPA members happened at about 6:30 a.m. after a report from concerned citizens on the presence of armed men “extorting and intimidating” residents in the area.
Ancan said soldiers from the 73rd Infantry Battalion conducted a security patrol in Sitio Balataan to confirm the report but were fired upon by the communist rebels triggering a firefight that lasted for about an hour.
The identities of the slain rebels, both male, are yet to be confirmed by the military.
Ancan claimed that the blood stains in the encounter site and withdrawal route of the communist fighters indicate that there were also wounded NPA members.
No casualty was reported on the government side.
Capt. Mc Gary Dida, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 1002nd Infantry Brigade, said seized from the encounter site were two AK-47, two M16 rifles, one Garrand rifle, seven backpacks, two handheld radios, an NPA flag and subversive documents.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said despite the encounter, they were saddened that the killed NPA members were “another victims of the wrong propaganda.”
“Thus we are calling on the members of the NPAs to lay down their arms, surrender and avail of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program [of the government],” Clement said in a statement.
The encounter happened days after 15 NPA members were killed in an encounter in Nasugbu, Batangas a week after President Rodrigo Duterte terminated the peace negotiations with the communist movement.
The clash in Batangas that killed a University of the Philippines student drew the attention of Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison who called on independent human rights organizations and the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the incident.