THREE members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) were killed on Friday in an encounter with government troops in Doña Remedios Trinidad town in Bulacan.Col. Henry Sabarre, commander, 703rd brigade, said the victims were part of a band of about 12 rebels that were on a recruitment and attack missions when engaged by the elements of the 48 Infantry Battalion.
“Part of their mass base idea works. They were recruiting and if ever they have target of opportunity they will hit military and other vital installations, like communications network, in the area,” Sabare said.
According to Sabare, local residents tipped off the presence of the insurgents, prompting military troops to rush into the area.
“We were able to inflict casualties on their side. We recovered three bodies and one M16 rifle. However, we suffered one wounded,” he added.
In a related development, five members of the 26th Infantry Battalion’s Peace and Development Team (PDT) were wounded when landmines exploded along a barangay trail in Barangay Kauswagan, Loreto Agusan de Sur.
The same PDT members discovered a sack full of landmines with food packs the night before. They were passing on the trail in the morning, when the explosion occurred.
Kauswagan Tribal Datu Ronnie Tuga said that the trail is a regular passageway of the residents especially by kids going to school.
“This is devastating. What if our constituents passed by that area? They might have been killed, too. Even those that were unexploded would be very harmful to everyone us here,” Tuga said.
Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) data revealed that a total of 16 landmine or improvised explosive device attacks were recorded since January, all allegedly perpetrated by the NPA.
On June 22, NPAs also burned a sawmill in Barangay Santa Teresa, Loreto, Agusan de Sur. A week later, the same group kidnapped and killed Edgar Batuasan, a barangay councilor of said village.
Lt Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz, commander, Eastmincom, said that what the NPAs did was a clear violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
“The placement of the landmine in the village pathway does not only inflict casualties but instills fear among the civilians,” Cruz said.