A MAN believed to be leader of a New People’s Army (NPA) squad was killed in yet another encounter between suspected rebels and the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion.
The latest clash happened March 24, 2019 at Sitio Burak, Barangay Alimodias, Miagao, Iloilo.
A composite platoon of the 61st Infantry Battalion led by Staff Sergeant Segovia was on strike operations when they encountered 20 NPA rebels from the Suyak Platoon of the Komiteng Rehiyon Panay-Souther Front Committee.
Joven Ceralvo alias Lex allegedly led the rebels in the 30-minute gunfight with Army troopers.
Lieutenant Colonel Sisenando Magbalot Jr., 61st IB commander, said heightened intelligence monitoring led them to stumble on the NPA camp in Miag-ao town.
The area was surrounded with collapsible tents made of laminated sacks.
Magbalot said NPA rebels don’t build permanent structures as they opt for foldaway shelters.
“There’s always a water source and running trenches that could indicate they’ve been in the area for quite some time,” he said.
Barangay Alimodias is more or less 18 kilometers from Miag-ao town proper.
The village center could be accessed by vehicle while Sitio Burak, the area where the encounter happened, could be reached after a 2-kilometer walk.
The encounter led to the death of an NPA combatant who is presumed to be one of the group’s leader.
“An NPA leader could be distinguished by a hat etched with a red star. The fatality was wearing one during the encounter,” Magbalot said.
Recovered at the encounter site was an NDF flag, an M16 rifle, claymore mines, and subversive documents.
As he stated earlier, Magbalot said more armed clashes are to be expected, especially that they are pounding heavily on the rebels’ lairs.
The latest encounter is the fourth that happened between 61st IB soldiers and NPA rebels in Southern Panay in a span of one week.
Prior to that, an encounter also occurred happened early morning of March 20 at Sitio Igburay, Barangay Indaluyon, Igbaras, Iloilo.
The soldiers encountered around 10 rebels believed to be members of Sibat Platoon of the NPA’s LRP-SFC led by a certain Nahum.
A soldier was slightly wounded on his right cheek but Magbalot said he now is safe and in stable condition now.
The operating troops recovered a claymore mine, seven bag packs, two detonators for improvised explosive device (IED), two Baofeng radios, two mobile phones, two handcuffs, two magazines for M16 rifle, and ammunition for 7.62mm.
The first clash happened in Barangay Mulangan, Igbaras on March 17 and the other at Barangay Osorio 1, San Remegio, Antique on March 19.