IGBARAS, Iloilo – In its efforts to minimize the insurgency in Iloilo province, Army troopers under the 82nd Infantry “Bantay-Laya” Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division seized a big NPA camp after a brief firefight in Brgy Igcabugao, Igbaras, Iloilo at 1:55 P.M. Wednesday September 17.
Lt Col Aldwine Almase, Commanding Officer of 82IB said that his troops were conducting community security operations in said village when they were fired upon by undetermined number of lawless armed elements believed to be members of Southern Front, Komiteng Rehiyonal – Panay (SF, KR-P) of the CPP-NPA.
The Army troops resorted to fire back and a fire fight ensued for five (5) minutes before the rebels were forced to withdraw to different directions.
No reported casualty from the government forces. The troops scoured the scene of encounter and saw blood stains along the NPA’s route of withdrawal believed to be those of the wounded fleeing rebels.
After the firefight, the residents provided information to the troops that enabled them to track the location of the NPA camp.
The camp which has an estimated area of 700 square meters can accommodate around one hundred (100) personnel. It has three (3) kitchens, numerous foxholes, makeshifts intended for training instructions and meetings, and a firing range.
The troops recovered training paraphernalia, wires of improvised explosive device (IED) or landmine and personal belongings.
Prior to encounter, the troops received reports from the residents about the presence of lawless armed elements and were complaining that these NPA rebels were asking for money and food supplies from the civilians.
Colonel Erick Uchida, Commander of 301st Brigade based in Dingle, Iloilo said “This is a big blow to the NPA. NPA camps are being used to assemble improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and where the rebels stage their atrocious plans and activities.”
Uchida added that “Our troops saw wounded NPA members while they were disorganized and withdrew to different directions. But we have alerted our medical team in any time that those wounded NPA members would seek for medical assistance. We call on those rebels to come out, lay down their arms peacefully and be given proper medical attention. They are being assured that their human rights will be respected”.
Government troops are now conducting follow-on operations to ensure the security and safety of the civilians and to run after the fleeing lawless elements.
Meanwhile, Major General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Commander of 3ID instructed the troops in the field to strictly follow the rule of law and respect for human rights while conducting follow-on operations in the area.
Guerrero appreciated the valuable information from the residents. He said “We acted upon the call of the people to preserve the peace and security in their community. The communities are fed up with the NPAs who constantly ask for financial support and provisions.”
Guerrero also stressed, “We reiterate our call for peace with the people. It is high time for the CPP-NPA to listen to this call of the people by laying down their arms, end the armed struggle and return to mainstream of society.”
“Armed struggle will not solve our problems. Let us instead work together through “Bayanihan” to end this conflict and help our country in attaining just and lasting peace,” added Guerrero.