Fifteen members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed and five soldiers were wounded in an encounter with government troops on Tuesday night in Nasugbu, Batangas, military officials said on Wednesday.
Chief Supt. Mao Aplasca, Calabarzon Regional Director said five of the 15 rebels were killed at Sitio Pinamantasan, Barangay Aga while nine others died in the clash at Sitio Batulao, Barangay Kaylaway.
(Calabarzon is Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon.)
Maj. Gen. Rhoderick Parayno, commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said one of the rebels died in the hospital. Among the dead were the secretary of the NPA Guerilla Unit 3 and a platoon leader who were not identified.
Parayno identified the latest NPA fatality as Josephine Santiago Lapera alias Ella, 22, who lived in Marikina City.
He said Lapera died at 2:30 a.m. in the hospital where she was brought after the encounter with the military troops.
Parayno said that the five wounded soldiers were in stable condition.
Capt. Melchor Durante Jr., spokesman of the 2nd Infantry Division, said the slain communist rebels were believed to be “remnants” of a group that encountered military forces from the 730th Combat Group last November 20, also in Nasugbu.
Seized from the encounter site were 12 high-powered firearms. The wounded rebels were given aid, he added.
“We put premium to the lives of our fellow Filipinos that is why when they lost their ability to fight, we extended a helping hand to save them and give them the chance to defend themselves before the court of law as they answer to their evil deeds,” Brigadier General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr, commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, said in a separate statement.
Pursuit operations of the military and the police are ongoing.
Burgos also said that the leadership vacuum resulting from the deaths of these NPA leaders signaled the end of insurgency in Batangas.
Even before President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that the NPA rebels would be classified as terrorists, security forces in the region have intensified counterinsurgency operations to put an end to extortion activities by the rebels and preempt hostile actions that may hamper the booming economy in the Calabarzon area.
Parayno said the government offensives were “in line with the President’s pronouncement that the NPA [rebels]are terrorists. We appeal to the NPA [members]to surrender and be productive citizens in their communities. We are offering them the opportunity to live normal lives, be with their families, enjoy the benefits of becoming productive citizens and reap the fruits of their hard earned labor. We will help them. They refuse and this is the result.”
Parayno added: “All available assets, including aircraft, are on red alert. The NPA will face the full might of the government that is why we call on their families to convince their relatives who are still blinded by their take on extortion activities to give up their arms and prevent them from suffering the fate of the 14 terrorists who died tonight.”