SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: A stronghold of the New People’s Army (NPA) was overrun and war materials were seized by the Joint Task Force Zamboanga Peninsula-Lanao (JTF ZamPeLan) in the wake of focused military operations against the rebel group in Misamis Occidental, an Army official said on Tuesday.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson for the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) based in Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City, added that the camp fell after a clash between elements of the 55th Infantry Battalion and members of the SECOM (Sendong Command) of the NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee in Barangay Gala, Tudela, Misamis Occidental.
Petinglay said Philipppine Army troops were able to recover two Claymore mines, a grenade rifle, three rolls of wires for landmines, an unexploded M203 ammunition and subversive documents.
She added that the military also confiscated an NPA flag with a logo of the National Democratic Front, 11 NPA bull caps and a bandolier.
Brigadier General Rolando Bautista, who leads JTF ZamPeLan, said the Army troops continue to scouring clash
“We will not give these rebels time to rest and recuperate. Our troops will continue to track them as communities who have suffered from their abuses for the longest time are already tipping us about their whereabouts,” Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom commander, said.
Meanwhile, tension escalated as security remained tight in Kalamansig, a seaside town in Sultan Kudarat, after a fierce encounter between the 2nd Marine Battalion of the Philippine Marines and NPA guerrillas on Friday.
An enlisted serviceman of the 2nd Marine Company and six rebels were killed during the firefight, sources from the 1st Marine Brigade based in nearby Lebak town of Sultan Kudarat, said.
The clash erupted when the NPA guerrillas, positioned on a hill in Sitio Tinagdanan in Barangay Hinalaan, attacked from different directions a platoon of Marines dispatched to verify the reported presence there of communist rebels who were forcing villagers to pay “protection money.”
The Philippine National Police (PNP) also on Tuesday said seven Marines were wounded in the running gunfight that lasted for three hours and stopped only after a Marine artillery group, positioned about five kilometers away, bombarded the NPA positions, forcing the rebels to withdraw.
Municipal officials and barangay (village) leaders said they have been receiving reports from villagers that six NPAs were killed while nine more were injured in the gunfight.
Sources from the Kalamansig municipal peace and order council said the rebels belong to the NPA’s Guerilla Front 73.
Local officials have confirmed that the ongoing tension and tight security around Barangay Hinalaan and the nearby farming areas have dislocated dozens of families.