DAVAO CITY – Another cadaver believed to be a communist guerilla was found two days after government troops clashed with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the Davao de Oro town of Pantukan on April 7.
The 15-minute firefight in Sitio Ibuan Barangay Tagdangua, Pantukan, killed an NPA fighter who has yet to be identified.
2nd Lt. Kim Carlos, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion (7IB), said the cadaver found Thursday near the encounter site was Benjamin Olvis, a medic for the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).
“After the encounter, the troops saw bloodstains in the direction where the NPA fled. He was one of the wounded during the encounter who tried to escape,” Carlos told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Friday.
Olvis’ identity was confirmed by a former NPA fighter who recently surrendered to the government, the Army official said.
“This morning (April 10), the 71IB in coordination with the local government unit facilitated a decent burial to the deceased,” Carlos added.
Prior to Thursday’s encounter, Carlos said they received reports from the residents in the area that a number of NPA guerillas were “terrorizing the people in the hinterlands, ransacking houses looking for food and forcing the people to be the courier for their logistics.”
“Tired of being used for their useless cause, the community called for help from the authorities,” he added.
Lt. Col. Sonny Gonzales, 71IB commander, said communities are now fighting back against the NPA following the “whole-of-nation” approach launched by President Rodrigo Duterte last year.
The participative approach in tackling the communist insurgency at the local level, Gonzales said, has made people realize that “peace and security is a shared responsibility.”
“With the community’s full cooperation, it won’t be long for peace to be achieved. To all NPAs who are still in the hinterlands, stop terrorizing the poor and return to the fold of the law,” the Army official said. (PNA)