Army officer dies, 2 injured in Paquibato clash

A JUNIOR officer of the Philippine Army was killed while two others were wounded when New People's Army (NPA) rebels set off an improvised bomb during a clash in the outskirts of Davao City, the military reported Friday.

The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) identified the slain soldier as First Lieutenant Jarren Jay Relota, 27, Bravo Company commanding officer of the Army's 16th Infantry Battalion.

The identities of the two wounded soldiers were not immediately available. Both are enlisted personnel. They were brought to the Metro Davao Medical and Research Center for treatment.

Major Ezra Balagtey, Eastmincom information officer, said a firefight ensued, as the NPA rebels opened fire upon seeing a platoon of soldiers led by Relota around 4 p.m. Thursday in Sitio Quimbao, Barangay Mapula, Paquibato District, Davao City.

Balagtey said Relota's platoon was checking on the reported presence of NPA rebels in Sitio Quimbao when the firefight broke out.

The rebels detonated an improvised bomb fashioned out as a landmine at the height of the clash, resulting in the death of Relota and injury of two other soldiers.

Major General Noel Clement, Army's 10th Infantry Division commander, expressed his grief as he was saddened over the death of the young officer.

Despite the incident, Clement has vowed to continue to pursue the peace campaign in the area and prevent such incident.

"We grieve for the death of Lieutenant Relota. However, we salute his display of the finest tradition of soldiery and gallantry in pursuing peace and protecting the people of Paquibato. We hope that by his sacrifice, we will bring peace in the area," said Clement, who is also the Task Force Haribon commander.

Relota is a native of San Jose, Antique. He was commissioned into the regular force after finishing the Officer Candidate Course of the Officer Candidate School in May 2013. He was designated as the company commander since June 1, 2017.

Being the only son of Joel and Celine Relota, the brave officer finished Bachelor of Science in Criminology at the University of Antique on April 1, 2011.

Relota's body is currently laid at St. Peter's Chapel in Panacan, Davao City.
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