CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet: A physician and a nurse were among those believed wounded in the recent clashes at the remote village of Namal, Asipulo in Ifugao where government forces overrun a rebel encampment.
Taking cues from identification cards left behind by wounded and fleeing rebels after the encounter on Sunday night, soldiers named Ana Marie Leung, a doctor, and nurse Isabelle Anne Ramos as among those hurt during the hour-long gunfight.
Lt. Col. Nicolas Quemado, commander of the 54th Infantry Battalion (IB) said they found the physician’s Professional Regulations Commission ID card and two ATM cards and Ramos’ postal identification card at the New People’s Army (NPA) camp, the reason why the military tagged them to have joined the communist movement.
Leung was believed to be one of those wounded in the firefight after a villager reportedly identified her as one of those carried away by retreating rebels, the military official said.
Government troops also believed the overrun camp in Namal belonged to top cadres of the communist movement taking their cue from the seized documents including the documents of Leung and Ramos. “What we fought,” Quemado said, “are the heads of the Ifugao NPA command.”
The suspected NPA rebels reportedly belonged to the Nona del Rosario Command of the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee.
The military official also urged the families of Leung and Ramos to communicate with them to claim the identification and ATM cards of their relatives.
The 54th IB said pursuit operations against the fleeing rebels who sought refuge in thick forests in Asipulo are still ongoing.
Quemado added that they are now coordinating with the Anti Money Laundering Council for the possible freezing of the bank accounts believed as being used by the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA Ifugao.
Meanwhile, Ifugao lawmaker Teodoro Baguilat Jr. said the skirmishes have forced indigenous peoples (IPs) to flee their villages and urged the government to push for the resumption of the peace talks.
“Just days after the breakdown of the peace talks and the lifting of the ceasefire, the military and the NPA have renewed their fighting. While casualties on both sides are expected, the greater tragedy is the displacement of peace-loving indigenous peoples from their ancestral homes,” Baguilat said.
Hundreds of IPs are now in an evacuation center in Asipulo where the fighting has been raging in the past days.
Baguilat said displaced villagers are in dire need of food, water and blankets because of the cold weather. “But more than anything, what they need is to go back home and to live in peace, away from the war that is not of their making and certainly not their fault,” he added.