GOVERNMENT security forces engaged some 15 members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in an hour-long fierce gunfight in a hinterland village in Surigao del Norte.
First Lt. Stephen Basco, civil military officer, 30th Infantry Battalion (IB), Fourth Infantry Division, said on Monday the incident took place in Sitio Boybanwa, Barangay Camam-onan in Gigaquit town.
Basco said that before the encounter the 30th IB received information from a concerned citizen regarding the presence of rebels who were allegedly extorting food and money from barangay residents.
The said rebels, he added, were members of the Sandatahan Platoon Propaganda 16C Guerrilla Front 16 of Northern Eastern Mindanao Region Committee.
“30IB troops maneuvered and assaulted the rebels prompting the latter to run in different directions,” he said.
According to Basco, no trooper were wounded or killed during the one-hour firefight but expressed belief that some insurgents were wounded or killed because of bloodstains found at the encounter site.
Recovered from the area were a .45 pistol with seven rounds of live ammunition, a set of medical and dental apparatus, a cellular phone with three SIM cards and subversive documents.
In a related development, two red fighters voluntarily surren-dered to the 20th IB based in Barangay Magsaysay, Lope de Vega, Northern Samar.
Capt. Amado Gutierrez, chief, Public Affairs Office, Eighth Infantry Division, identified the rebels as a certain Ja7yson Francisco Lucban and Rosemari Morena Cadajas, squad leader and member of the NPA Regional Strike Force, respectively.
Gutierrez claimed that the duo had decided to renounce their membership as NPAs because of the current government programs intended for former rebels.
Under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Peace Process, the two surrenderees will receive P50,000 livelihood assistance and P15,000 immediate assistance.
They will also receive another cash reward in exchange for whatever firearm they will surrender under the AFP Guns for Peace. In addition, they are also entitled to receive livelihood package from the local government units where they reside.