AT LEAST seven alleged members of the New People's Army (NPA) died in an encounter with the government troops in the hinterlands of Barangay Santander, Bobon, Northern Samar, on early Sunday morning, April 30, 2023.

In the information released by Captain Jefferson Mariano, chief of 8ID Public Affairs Office, he said four firearms were also seized during the "joint focused military operation" of the Philippine Army, in coordination with the Philippine National Police.

Army Major General Camilo Ligayo, commander of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, Samar, said that the operation's success "was made possible through the recent efforts to clear the 'eryang kinikilusan' barangays which hindered the communist rebels for logistical and operational support."

"Last year na-clear natin ang mga eryang kinikilusan ng Front Committee 2 that prompted their dismantling sa tulong ng ating mga local chief executives mas naunawaan ng ating mga residente ng Northern Samar ang kanilang responsibilidad sa pagresolba ng insurhensiya,” Ligayo said.

According to Mariano, the joint operation occurred following the information given by concerned civilians that a group of armed men was seen passing through the outskirts of the said barangay.

The Army's 803rd Brigade encountered more or less 40 rebel members who allegedly belonged to the Sub-Regional Guerilla Unit (SRGU) and remnants of the dismantled Front Committee-2 (FC-2), Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) Emporium, Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC).

The rebel group was led by Mario Sevillano, alias Durok, according to the Army.

In a statement, Mariano added the NPA hideouts "were heavily fortified and surrounded by prohibited anti-personnel mines (APMs) that prompted the troops to call for close air and artillery support."

The army troops recovered seven unidentified cadavers and seized one R4 rifle, two M16 rifles, one AK47 rifle, one APM, and other subversive documents.

"The troops on the ground saw heavy bloodstain along their route of withdrawal, which indicates that the rebels suffered a heavy casualty," the Army added.

Meanwhile, Bobon Mayor Reny Celespara called on the rebels to surrender "for the sake of your family and the country."

"The government is willing and eager to help you to start a normal life,” Ligayo added. (SunStar Philippines)