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DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – At least five New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed in fresh clashes with government troops in outlying villages in Davao Oriental province this week.
The military confirmed on Wednesday, September 14, that fierce encounters took place in the hinterland villages of Banaybanay and Lupon in Davao Oriental since Sunday, and that the military operations were ongoing.
Captain Maximo Trinidad Jr., the spokesman of the Army’s 48th Infantry Battalion, said the clashes resumed on Tuesday, September 13, in the village of San Vicente in Banaybanay town where three rebels were killed.
It was a spillover, he said, of the encounter that killed two rebels in the hinterland village of Mahayahay in the neighboring town of Lupon on Sunday, September 11.
One of those killed in Banaybanay died of loss of blood while being treated at a hospital.
The violence disrupted classes and affected many students.
Reynaldo Mellorida, the schools division superintendent of Davao Oriental, said classes in several villages were suspended on Wednesday because of the fighting.
“It was the mayor of Banaybanay who ordered the indefinite suspension of classes because of the clashes,” Mellorida said.
He said the encounters affected students in at least three villages: Kauswagan, Panikian, and Mahayahay in Banaybanay.
Mellorida added: “We don’t know when the classes will resume. The mayor’s order is indefinite suspension.”
Later, Trinidad said the military advised Banaybanay Mayor Lemuel Ian Larcia to lift his class suspension order.
“Everything is now under control,” he assured the mayor.
Trinidad said the clashes started on Sunday, when soldiers on patrol went to Lupon to check on reports from villagers that a group of about 19 heavily armed rebels was sighted in the area.
“While our troops were on their way to the village, they were attacked,” he said.
The military said the band of rebels belong to the NPA’s Guerrilla Front 18 which is known to be active in Mount Diwata and upland areas of Mati, and the towns of San Isidro and Governor Generoso.
The military said soldiers found eight high-powered machine guns, M16 rifles, AK47 rifles, pistols, and ammunition in the encounter sites right after the Sunday and Tuesday clashes. – Rappler.com