By Alexander Lopez
BUTUAN CITY: A combatant of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) was killed while another one was captured in separate armed encounters with government troops on Wednesday and Thursday morning in the hinterlands of Buenavista town, Agusan del Norte.
Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, commander of the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB), in a statement Thursday said that the first encounter took place in Barangay Sangay, Buenavista, past 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
“Our troops conducted a strike operation after the residents in the area reported the presence of NPA rebels conducting extortion activities,” Paulo said.
Government forces engaged around six NPA rebels in a five-minute encounter upon reaching the area, he added.
“Our troops encountered the remnants of Guerrilla Front (GF) 4A of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) under Jelan Pinakilid, alias Baking,” Paulo said.
The 23IB recovered a motorcycle and other belongings from the encounter site following the rebels’ retreat.
A 16-year-old NPA member, identified as Archie C. Penales Jr., also surrendered to the 23IB after the encounter.
Paulo said the surrenderer was later identified as the son of Archie C. Penales, Sr. of the NPA’s Guerrilla Front 88.
At around 6:30 a.m. Thursday, troopers of the 23IB clashed anew with around 15 members of GF4A in Barangay Guinabsan, Buenavista.
“The fresh firefight lasted for about 15 minutes that resulted to the death of an NPA member and the recovery of high-powered firearms,” Paulo said.
Recovered from the encounter site were two AK-47 rifles and three backpacks.
“The recovered NPA cadaver was handed over by our troopers to the barangay officials of Guinabsan for identification and proper disposition,” Paulo said.
No one was hurt from the government side during the encounters, he added.
“As much as possible, we don’t want lives to be wasted, because we don’t want to see families suffered from the loss of their family members and loved ones,” Paulo said.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
Philippine News Agency