AN OFFICER of the 12th Infantry Battalion (12IB) of the Philippine Army was wounded in a firefight with communist rebels in Sitio Tinurian, Barangay Aglobong, Janiuay, Iloilo around 9 a.m. Friday, August 28, 2020.

Major Cenon Pancito III, spokesperson of the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), said the firefight was a result of the Army's relentless pursuit operations against members of the New People's Army.

"Two days ago, same Army unit encountered them at the adjacent barangay of Panuran, also in Janiuay town," Pancito said.

He said the clash lasted for about 40 minutes, leaving one Army officer wounded.

Initial reports from the field stated that an undetermined number of NPA rebels were also wounded.

"We also thank the locals for the trust of relaying their information so that a more prompt military action will be initiated to stop the terroristic activities of the NPAs," Pancito said.

Reports also said the government forces captured rifles, a .45 pistol, bandoleer with four magazines for M16 and three backpacks.

"With us seeing their tracks and the information of the locals, our troops were able to locate their whereabouts. We vow to continue with our efforts of not letting up the pressure against their group until they are brought to justice and are rendered irrelevant in the communities," Pancito said.

He once again called on the NPA rebels to surrender, or face the might of the soldiers who are continuously hunting them.

The wounded soldier, with the rank of second lieutenant, was brought to a hospital in Iloilo City via a Philippine Air Force helicopter.

Pancito said the officer is now in stable condition.

The Army's 12th Infantry Battalion and 31st Division Recon Company also encountered last Wednesday, August 26, the communist rebels in Barangay Panuran, Janiuay, Iloilo.

The troops engaged with about 20 rebels from the Baloy Platoon of the KR-Panay in the hinterlands of Janiuay, Iloilo. The clash lasted for about 40 minutes.

The encounter resulted in the communist rebels running toward different directions, leaving behind blood stains, rifle magazine and ammunition, personal belongings and subversive documents.

After the encounter, the troops intercepted a certain "Jesus," who was at that time coming from Barangay Panuran onboard a vehicle of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office. He was being transported to Janiuay Municipal Hospital for medical treatment after suffering from a minor gunshot wound.

The 12IB acted on a tip provided by concerned civilians in the barangay regarding the presence of an armed group who was extorting food from the community.

It can be recalled that last August 8, the 12IB also encountered the rebels in Barangay of Atimonan of Janiuay.

Brigadier General Marion Sison, the 301st Brigade commander, said successive encounters by troops and rebels through tips from the community is an indicator that people from the hinterlands of Janiuay, Iloilo are fed up with the lies and extortion activities of the NPA.

He also said that the Army will continue to go after terrorist organizations in order to protect the people. (SunStar Philippines)