DAVAO CITY: Two members of the communist rebels’ New People’s Army (NPA) were killed in an encounter with the military in a remote village in South Cotabato early Friday.
This occurred in spite even as talks have begun between a government peace panel and its counterpart from the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) in Oslo, Norway.
Senior Insp. Joven Bagaygay, police chief of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, said government forces were conducting foot patrol in Sitio Lamtapok, Barangay Ned, in the town before dawn when they chanced upon about nine heavily armed members of the NPA Front 73.
A 20-minute gun battle erupted, killing two rebels. However, no casualty on the government side was reported, according to the Army’s team leader, 2Lt. Glen Gautane.
“The Army received reports about the presence of armed men in Sitio Lamtapok and they conducted foot patrol before the clash,” Bagaygay said.
Government forces recovered AK-47 and M-14 automatic rifles, as well as ammunitions from the slain rebels.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Benjamin Leander, Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion commanding officer, said the rebels should cease harassing and extorting money from villagers, especially now with the resumption of peace talks between the government and their top hierarchy.