AMID claims by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that the New People’s Army (NPA) is losing the war, the communist rebels continues to engage the military as it launched another attack against government security forces in Samar province.
Capt. Amado Gutierrez, spokesman, 8th Infantry Division, disclosed on Monday that the latest encounter took place in Barangay Diit in the town of Matuginao that left one soldier wounded and allegedly an undetermined number on the rebels’ side.
He said the soldier-members of the “Bayanihan” Team of the 43rd Infantry Battalion were conducting routine community and security patrol in the area when they were engaged by some 15 heavily armed rebels.
Wounded was Private First Class Eduardo Carcillar.
Gutierrez said that based on information provided by the residents, the withdrawing rebels carried their wounded comrades as they retreated.
Prior to the encounter, Gu-tierrez added, an abandoned NPA camp was also discovered by operating troops of the 34 Infantry Battalion in the boundary of the hinterlands villages of Pio del Pilar and Can-Maria in Lapinig town.
He said the discovered NPA camp has a makeshift hall and tents and can accommodate 30 people.
Troops assessed that the NPA camp was abandoned few days ago.
Last week, the rebels also engaged government forces in a 35-minute firefight in Barangay Upper Calmayon, Juban, Sorso-gon that resulted in the death of eight rebels.
On Sunday, the NPAs retaliated by firing at a group of students participating in a fun run in Gubat, Sorsogon that left one female student injured.
Earlier, NPA rebels in Northern Samar and Zamboanga del Sur also engaged government forces in separate encounters that left one soldier dead and 11 others injured.
But despite the series of attacks initiated by the NPAs, the AFP said that it is still winning the war under the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan, the government’s new anti-insurgency strategy.
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, chief, Public Affairs Office, said that AFP still has the upper hand against the NPA with a 40-percent increase in military-initiated engagements against the armed rebels from fourth quarter of 2012 to first quarter of 2013.
Since January up to March this year, he added, the AFP recorded 96 focus-military operations against the NPA who only conducted 46.
Zagala claimed that through IPSP, more and more NPAs were returning to the government fold.
The AFP has declared 25 provinces as NPA-free.
William B. Depasupil