THE Philippine Army has reported clashes with communist rebels in Samar provinces Friday morning, just a day after the Communist Party of the Philippines asked its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to launch nationwide attack against government troops.
At 8:30 a.m. Friday, May 26, soldiers of the 43rd Infantry Battalion led by Second Lieutenant Jermaine Gentiles encountered about 20 members of the NPA in Mahayag village, Matuguinao, Samar.
“There were no confirmed casualties on both sides,” the Army’s 8th Infantry Division said in a statement.
A former local government official, who asked not to be named, said that people in Matuguinao town were scared of recent clashes between soldiers and rebels.
“We heard firing of heavy artillery guns just this morning. Some people in villages fled to the town center out of fear,” she said in text message.
Last May 16, an Army corporal died in a clash between NPA and soldiers also in Mahayag village.
The 15-minute firefight erupted when soldiers chased a group of communist rebels asking for food and medicines from villagers.
Matuguinao, a fifth-class farming town, is about 105 kilometers north of Tacloban City. Most of its 20 villages are infested by rebels due to poor road networks and thick forest.
In another incident, the Army reported that a platoon of soldiers encountered about 10 armed rebels in remote Sta. Fe village, General Macarthur, Eastern Samar, around 7 a.m. Friday, triggering a five-minute firefight.
No casualty on the government side. The Army has yet to find out if there was any injury on the NPA side.
Samar Island is known to be one of the hotbeds of armed rebels in the country. Several encounters between the Army and NPA had been reported in three provinces in the past years.
The Communist Party of the Philippines ordered on Wednesday, May 24, tactical offensives against the government in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao effective May 23. (PNA)