Army, NPA rebels clash at Iloilo’s ‘Little Baguio’

Published January 25, 2021, 2:05 PM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY – The Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61st IB) and the New People’s Army (NPA) clashed anew over the weekend at a mountain village in Leon town that is one of the major tourist attractions in Iloilo province.

According to 61st IB Commander Lt. Col. Joel Benedict Batara, the encounter between government troops and the NPA’s Southern Panay Front erupted in the afternoon of Sunday, January 24, in Sitio Tabionan in Bucari village, dubbed as the “Little Baguio of Iloilo”.

Batara said government troops were in the area to check on the reported presence of the Communist rebels when they encountered 30 NPA rebels believed to be under the leadership of Melgar “Ka Mar” Besmanos.

A 20-minute firefight ensued until the NPA rebels withdrew in different directions.  According to Batara, there may be wounded NPA rebels based on blood trails.

“Fortunately, no one was hurt among our soldiers,” Batara added.

Recovered from the encounter site were two improvised explosive devices (IEDs), a detonator, and wires.

Meanwhile, Batara is urging local residents to immediately report to authorities of presence of suspected NPA rebels in their villages.