Two soldiers have been killed in separate attacks in Lanao del Norte and Isabela reportedly by communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, belated reports said on Tuesday.
In Rogongon village of Iligan City, Sergeant Edgar Andal died last Sunday in an ambush by an undetermined number of NPA rebels believed to be under Commander Kiram of Guerilla Front 68.
A Corporal Pamplona was wounded but was able to return to patrol base.
Chief Insp. Jovane Cabesas, Iligan City Police Office (ICPO) information officer, said a Philippine Army team was on security patrol along the Iligan-Bukidnon Road when it was attacked at about 8:30 a.m. in the vicinity of Malagsum in Rogongon.
The area is populated by the Higaonon indigenous people who consider it their ancestral domain.
Iligan City PNP Director Leony Roy Ga said the rebel group is being pursuit by soldiers in Iligan City.
Rogongon is under Iligan City Police Office 3 whose station is in Dalipuga.
Last month, Iligan City was alerted on the presence of armed men believed to be NPA guerrillas in the village of Mainit, some 15 kilometers from Rogongon.
Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia has stepped up security presence in the city’s hinterlands.
In Echague town, Isabela, on Sunday night, Corporal Denver Banban of the 86th Infantry Battalion was killed in a clash also with an undetermined number of NPA rebels, according to Major General Paul Talay Atal, the commander of the 5th Infantry Division (5th ID) of the Philippine Army (PA).
He said there were rebels killed during the firefight but they were still verifying their number and identities.
Meanwhile, the military’s Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) said six NPA rebels were arrested by joint operatives of the PA and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in two separate operations in Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya on Friday.
Lt. Col. Isagani Nato, Nolcom information officer, said three of the six rebels were arrested in Talavera town in Nueva Ecija while the other three were arrested in Dupax del Sur town in Nueva Vizcaya.
Nato identified the Nueva Ecija-based rebels as Pedro Bruel Caagbay of Tayabas City, Quezon; Johny Ulip of San Jacinto, Victoria, Tarlac; and a certain Esmiralda Canaria, alias Smith.
The rebels were arrested for their alleged extortion activities.
A businessman in Talavera town reported to authorities an extortion letter he received from the rebels asking him to pay a “revolutionary tax” of P60,000.
Police recovered two caliber 30 carbine rifles, two grenades and assorted live ammunition from the NPA guerrillas.
The three Nueva Vizcaya-based rebels were identified as Ariel Agabao, 23, alias Rodel/Daniel, resident of Disiyuan village in San Mariano town, Isabela; Daril Villarial, 20, alias Henry of Lilomoso village in Echague town, Isabela; and John Paul San Carlos, 20, a resident of Rail Road, Conception, Pequena town in Camarines Sur.
Senior Supt. Leumar Abugan, PNP-Nueva Vizcaya director, said the three were arrested a day after the clash
between the soldiers and NPA rebels in Sanguit village in Dupax del Sur town on November 9.
An NPA rebel was reportedly killed and 10 soldiers were wounded during the clash between the Palayan City-based 84th Infantry Battalion of the 7th Infantry Division and the NPA’s Venerando Villacillo Command operating in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces.
A joint PA-PNP team arrested the NPA rebels and seized from them a 1911 Colt caliber .45, one Prieto Berreta cal. 9mm, three rifle grenades and assorted ammunition.
with LEANDER C. DOMINGO