By Lyka Manalo and Jerry Alcayde
SAN JUAN, Batangas/ CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro — Military combat operations have been intensified in the hinterlands of Batangas and Occidental Mindoro where encounters with the New People’s Army (NPA) broke out last Wednesday, resulting in the killing of a guerrilla and the wounding of a soldier.
Captain Patrick Jay Retumban, Public Affairs Office (PAO) chief of the army’s 2nd Infantry Division (2ID), said troopers found the body of a member of the NPA’s Kilusang Larangang Gerilya Silangan (formerly known as Platoon Galaxy) about one kilometer away from their encounter site in Sitio Sampaloc, Barangay Bulsa, San Juan, Batangas last Wednesday.
Retumban identified the rebel only by his alias, “Jepoy,” who succumbed to a bullet wound in the chest, following the clash between KLG Silangan fighters and the troopers of the 1st Infantry Battalion (1IB).
Major General Rhoderick M. Parayno AFP, 2ID commander, condemned the NPA’s negligence in leaving behind the body of their fallen member. “The NPAs do not respect the life of their comrades. They should provide proper medication to those that are wounded,” he said.
Government troops were still conducting massive pursuit operations against the rebels in Batangas to capture them and to locate other wounded NPA members who may need medical attention.
In the neighboring island of Mindoro, soldiers from the army’s 76th Infantry (Victrix) Battalion were also conducting combat operations in Sitio Ranao, Barangay Barahan, Sta. Cruz, Occidental Mindoro in response to complaints of concerned citizens regarding the presence of armed men roaming at night and allegedly extorting food from the Mangyan tribe.
Captain Christopher Cuenca, spokesman of army’s 203rd Brigade based in Bansud, Oriental Mindoro said government, also confirmed the wounding of a soldier in a clash with the NPA in Sta. Cruz at 11 a.m. last Wednesday.
Lieutenant Colonel Mario Lito I. Retirva, commanding officer of 76th IB, reported that a Scout Platoon of Bravo Company, led by First Lt. Howel John Kirby Buhion, exchanged fire with about 20 heavily armed guerrillas for about 15 minutes.
Retirva said the band of rebels are believed members of Platoon “Falcon” Sub-Regional Military Area 4-B of the NPA’s Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee, the same group which they encountered last June 29 in Sitio Kamambugan, Pinagturilan, Sta. Cruz. (With reports from Danny Estacio, Francis Wakefield, and Aaron Recuenco)