MASBATE CITY– Two NPA bandits lay dead in a series of clashes that erupted in different areas here today, a military official said.
Lt Col Jun Pacatan, Commander of the 9th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army said that four separate clashes with NPA bandits happened in his area of responsibility starting at early morning today, March 19.
The first encounter between more or less15 NPA rebels and a platoon of soldiers led by 2Lt Jeffrey Fajardo occurred at 5:45 a.m. in Dimasalang town. An M16 Armalite Rifle, 2 shotguns and 4 improvised bombs were confiscated in the said clash which lasted around 5 mins.
Receiving fresh information from the residents about the fleeing bandits, another platoon led by 2Lt Severato R Mazon encountered about six of the rebels and engaged them in a running gunbattle in nearby village of Cabrera at 7:20a.m.
The soldiers confiscated an M653 rifle (baby Armalite) and a Cal .38 revolver during the 2nd clash which lasted about 10 minutes before the rebels fled with their casualties.
At around 9:00 a.m, another clash erupted at San Jose village, Uson town when the platoon led by 2Lt Brian Saura chanced upon another band of rebels. The bandits scampered to various direction after the 5-minute clash, leaving behind an M16 Rifle and personal belongings.
At around 10:20am, another platoon of soldiers led by 1Lt Richard Caspillo clashed against the bandits in Cagara village, Baleno town. The rebels put up a fight which lasted 5 minutes, before they escaped to the mountains, leaving behind two dead comrades with their firearms including two M16 rifles, 1 US M1 Garand Rifle and 2 shotguns.
No one among the soldiers were hurt in the said clashes. The dead rebels were brought to the village officials for identification purposes.
Pacatan said that the soldiers are now receiving the full cooperation of the civilian residents in the area.
“I am very thankful for the vital information provided to us by the villagers about the presence of armed bandits. The people are already fed up by the oppressive extortion activities which victimize all of them,” said Pacatan.
Meanwhile, the 903rd Brigade Commander, Col Felix Castro, said that he is still hopeful that the NPA rebels will consider laying down their arms and cooperate in the government’s peace and development efforts.
“I hope the rest of the bandits will consider abandoning their armed struggle and start working with us in our drive to end the communist insurgency. It is only by means of Bayanihan that we can achieve our goal of attaining economic prosperity for all,” said Castro.