By Mike Crismundo
PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur – The Army’s Third Special Forces Battalion (3rd SFBn) troops on patrol in in Sitio Mikit, San Martin Propseridad, Agusan del Sur, encountered about 30 heavily armed Communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Friday, April 17, the military reported Saturday.
The government troops were on their way to security a municipal social welfare development’s (MSWD) distribution of Social Amelioration Cards (SACs) as part of the national government’s assistance efforts for all those severely affected by the quarantine restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.
First Lt. Krisjuper Andreo J. Punsalan, Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer told The Manila Bulletin on Saturday that villagers told assisting troops to the MSWDs that the Communist rebels have been extorting the food supply that local residents have been getting as relief goods from the government.
“This prompted our field troops to respond the information that resulted in a 30-minute gunfight that started at 6:35 a.m. on Friday, April 17,” the 3rd SFBn CMO officer said.
The encounter also resulted in the recovery of war materials, including an AK-47 rifle, two M16-A1 Armalite Rifles with an M203 grenade launcher, an M653 rifle, 12 backpacks with personal belongings, five bandoliers with full assorted ammunitions and a commercial radio left by the CNTs in the encounter site after a 30 minute-firefight, he said.
There was no casualty on the government troops while bloodstains from undetermined number of rebels believed to have been wounded were left at the encounter site.
Elements of 3rd SFBn and Regional Mobile Force Battalion 13 (RMFB 13) troops were still in hot pursuit of the fleeing rebels, Punsalan said.