CAMP VICENTE LIM, LAGUNA: Two army soldiers were killed and four were wounded when they were ambushed by suspected communist rebels on Monday morning in Lopez, Quezon.
Senior Superintendent Faus–to Manzanilla, Region 4 Chief of Investigation Division identified the fatalities as 1st Lt. Rey Jun Blancada, commander of the Alpha Company of the 85th Infantry Battalion and Pfc. Mark Malabanan.
Injured during the attack that were Cpl Michael Mendaro, Pfc Wilbourne Nisperos, Pfc Jomar Gruta and Pfc Francis Marcaida— all from the same unit of the Philippine Army based in Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) in Lucena City .
SOLCOM Chief Lt.Gen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo said the troops were on their way to Barangay Vegaflor in Lopez town for a medical mission when they were attacked by an undetermined number of armed rebels in Barangay Cogorin Ilaya around 7 a.m.
The rebels escaped towards Barangay Binahian B and Ilayang Ilog Lopez, Quezon after the firefight that lasted for about two hours.
Ordoyo said Malabanan died on the spot due to body shots while the four sustained leg injuries. Three members of the nine-member government team were unhurt.
Lt. Col. Lloyd Cabacungan, public information officer of Philippine Army–SOLCOM, said the victims were initially brought to Holy Rosary Hospital in Lopez, Quezon for treatment but were later transferred to SOLCOM’s Hospital in Camp Guillermo Nakar in Lucena City .
“This is a clear violation of the international humanitarian law, our troops were not combatant, they were about to conduct a medical mission when they were ambushed” Cabacungan said.
Cabacungan added that the New People’s Army have intensified their operations for the past two weeks to highlight their upcoming anniversary.
Asked if these ambush was part of the rebel’s retaliation following the arrest of their high ranking officials in Cebu, Cabacungan said “ these series of attacks are already present even before the arrest of their leader. But their organization is bound to collapse with the series of arrest and surrender of their leaders including those in SOLCOM area”.
Last Saturday, Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA Chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma, who is the secretary general, were nabbed by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Barangay Zaragosa, Aluginsan in Carcar, Cebu.