Sunday, June 16, 2019

NPA, Army clash in Escalante City; 680 evacuated

A MEMBER of the New People's Army (NPA) surrendered to the military on Friday, March 22, after a clash between his comrades and the military Thursday night, March 21, at Hacienda Fuentes, Barangay Mabini, Escalante City.

Based on the report of the 79th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, while the troops were clearing the area and in pursuit of the fleeing NPAs, one member surrendered to the Army.

Authorities recovered at least P300,000 worth of medicines, several boxes of assorted canned goods and a “record book” containing a medicine inventory during the clearing operation.

No one was hurt from the government side while there were three to four wounded NPA members, based on the reports gathered by the military. There were blood stains in the enemy’s route of withdrawal.

After receiving reports of NPA presence in the area and while conducting combat operations, troops of the 79th Infantry Battalion encountered more or less 10 NPA members around 7:15 p.m. on Thursday.

The soldiers engaged the NPA in a 10-minute running gun battle after which the rebels withdrew southwest of the barangay.

On the other hand, no civilians were hurt and 381 individuals were safely evacuated at Doña Rosorio Baldevia Elementary School in Sitio Sta. Ana, Barangay Mabinay, Escalante City and 301 individuals at San Jose National High School in Barangay San Jose, Toboso.

In response, a joint quick reaction team led by Lt. Col. Emelito Thaddeus Logan, commanding officer of the 79th Infantry Battalion and Major Win-Love Bag-ao, company commander of the 33rd Civil-Military Operations Company, along with Escalante City Mayor Eddie Montero, Toboso Mayor Richard Jaojoco and Maritez Olarga, Escalante City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer, distributed relief goods to the displaced individuals.

The team also conducted a thorough dialogue to explain the situation and to address other immediate needs of the locals affected by the encounter.

“The recovered medicines and canned goods left by the NPAs during the encounter may have come from their extortion activities or from supportive someone. I encourage the people to report to us any information of NPA extortion activities in their communities and to stop supporting the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)– NPA, it being a terrorist organization. I urge the NPAs to surrender now while there is time because the Army will relentlessly run after them (NPA) so they can no longer extort from the people and commit terroristic acts,” said Logan.

The incident was the second clash between government forces and NPAs in Escalante City after the November 16, 2018 encounter in Barangay Washington.

The said encounter resulted in deaths of two NPA members and the recovery of an M16 rifle, .45 caliber pistol, bandoleer with six steel magazines and 120 live ammunition, water containers, sacks of rice, assorted belongings and subversive documents with high intelligence value.


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