Two New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed in a 30-minute gunfight with troops from the Army’s 54th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Mainit, Mountain Province on Tuesday, the military said on Wednesday.
In an interview, 5th Infantry Division (5ID) spokesperson, Maj. Jekyll Julian Dulawan, said the slain communist rebels were identified by their relatives as Ernesto Lucaben Jr. alias “Ka Ashley/Lando” and Wilfredo Gaayon alias “Ka Jaz”, both of the NPA’s Komiteng Larangang Gerilya-Abra-Mt. Province-Ilocos Sur.
No casualty was reported on the military side.
Soldiers have recovered an M14 rifle, five magazines with 70 rounds of bullets, three magazines of AK-79 rifle with 20 rounds of bullets, nine anti-personnel mines, two rifle grenades, two hand grenades, two blasting caps, wires, medicines, and other personal belongings that were left by the rebels as they fled from the clash site.
Dulawan said the soldiers went to the area after receiving information from villagers about the presence of some 10 communist rebels.
He said the insurgents fired upon the troops when they arrived, resulting in the gunbattle.
Villagers in Bontoc, Mountain Province have earlier declared the communist rebels as “persona non grata”, Dulawan noted.
“Barangay Mainit, Bontoc, Mt Province is not a place for you to hide. The people are giving us information about your presence in their community. We are one with the peace-loving residents of the said locality,” Maj. Gen. Laurence Mina, 5ID commander, said in a statement.
“We wish to see you start a new life. And so, I am appealing to the remaining members of the CTGs (communist terrorist groups) to return to the fold of the law and avail the assistance of the government under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP),” he added.