TWO soldiers were wounded after joint military-police forces figured in two clashes with suspected members of the communist New People's Army in Balayan, Batangas province Saturday, March 10.

The first firefight occurred at around 8:30 a.m. when troops conducting combat operations encountered about 30 armed rebels in Sitio Kapihan, Barangay Patugo, according to Captain Patrick Retumban, chief public information officer of the 2nd Infantry Division.

The said firefight lasted for almost 30 minutes until the enemies scampered off to different directions, leaving bloodstains at the scene which indicated that some of there were wounded.

Another gunfight which lasted for about an hour ensued at around 9:12 a.m., when the withdrawing enemies were blocked by another group of soldiers in Sitio Sahing of the same barangay.

Retumban said Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police personnel are continuing pursuit operations against the suspected NPA rebels. Expanded checkpoints have been established in the area.

“These actions will send a message to the enemies-of-state that their terrorist activities against the people is futile,” said Major General Rhoderick Parayno, commander of the 2nd Infantry Division.

Brigadier General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade which supervises the operations, said they learned that the NPA rebels whom the troops encountered are remnants of the Sub- Regional Military Area (SRMA) 4C, which lost 15 fighters and 13 firearms during an armed engagement against the government forces in Nasugbu, Batangas on Novermber 28, 2017.

He also said the NPA members in Balayan area are possibly consolidating for a tactical offensive to project relevance in the province as part of the NPA’s anniversary on March 29.

Parayno, for his part, urged the rebels to surrender.

“They are given the opportunity to surrender because, although we do not rejoice in killing our fellow Filipinos, we are duty bound to take calculated and internationally accepted military actions,” he said.

The government earlier promised to provide housing and decent jobs to rebel surrenderers. (SunStar Philippines)