2 soldiers wounded in Sarangani gun battles

Edwin G. Espejo

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2 soldiers wounded in Sarangani gun battles
Communist rebels and government troops in the South engage in a firefight for the fourth time in 3 days


GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Two members of the Philippine Army were wounded Wednesday evening, April 1, as gun battles continue to rage between the military and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sarangani.

Lieutenant Colonel Ronnie Babac, commanding officer of the 73rd Infantry Battalion, said the government troopers under his command, were hurt when an undetermined number of NPA guerrillas fired at a patrolling team of soldiers running after the rebels.

It was the fourth time in 3 days that government troops and the NPAs engaged each other in a continuing battle.

On March 30, a platoon of soldiers first engaged a band of about 30 rebels in Little Baguio in Malita, Davao Occidental.

The firefight, which began at 6:50 am, lasted for 50 minutes. A military report said there were no casualties on the government side.

The NPA rebels were reportedly led by a certain Kumander Dong.

Another encounter took place at 2 p.m. as soldiers continue to run after the retreating rebels.

Then in the morning of March 31, a firefight also took place between another team of soldiers and another group of NPA rebels in Upper Suyan, Malapatan in Sarangani.

Reports said the latest gunfight where 2 government soldiers were wounded happened in Barangay Pag-asa in Alabel, Sarangani.

The series of firefight between the government and the rebels came just days after the 46th founding anniversary of the communist-led NPA.

Series of encounters

The encounters also came after a series of rebel setbacks that saw one of its top cadres perished in a military raid in February.

Tolentino Bariquit, a.k.a. Kumander Brigol, and five others were slain in a military raid last February 16. 

Brigol was tagged as the secretary of Front 71 although sources from the underground said he was the deputy secretary of the oldest guerilla front of the NPAs in the Socsksargen area (Region 12). 

The NPAs have been waging a Maoist-inspired guerrilla war since March 29, 1969. It is considered as Asia’s longest-running insurgency movement.

Babac said the NPAs in Sarangani have been put in the defensive as the military continue to hunt them down. 

“They have been deceiving the Lumads into joining them,” he said.

Babac however said more rebels are now turning themselves into the folds of the law. – Rappler.com

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