A WOMAN was injured after suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members fired at a group of private company employees in the hinterland village of Igcabugao, Igbaras, Iloilo.
The incident happened at around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday as five employees of the Century Peak Energy Corp. (CPEC) were on their way to their office after conducting site survey of its hydroelectric power project.
The victims were passing by Sitio Cinampuhan when suspected rebels allegedly fired at them.
The incident injured Shella Mae Estevez, 28, CPEC safety officer, who was hit on her lower right leg.
The other employees were unscathed.
Colonel Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade commander, said members of the 61st Infantry Battalion’s Bravo Company and some CAFGU (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit) members responded to the area.
“They were just a few hundred meters from the crime scene, that’s why there was an immediate response,” Arevalo said.
It was gathered that the soldiers escorted the CPEC employees in their site inspection.
But the military personnel were left behind as the CPEC employees left on board a civilian vehicle.
Arevalo said around 10 NPA members of the NPA-Komiteng Rehiyon Panay’s Southern Front Committee traded shots with responding military troops.
The rebels later withdrew to a forested portion of Igcabugao village while the victim was brought to Rep. Pedro Trono Memorial Hospital in Guimbal town for treatment.
Wednesday’s encounter was the sixth armed clash since July 21, 2018.
The first clash happened at Barangay Katipunan, Tapaz, Capiz followed by the clash at Barangay Alimodias, Miagao, Iloilo on August 1 and another at Barangay Cabatangan, Lambunao, Iloilo four days later.
On August 15, another encounter happened at Barangay Atabay, San Jose, Antique and nine days later at Isian Victoria, Leon, Iloilo.
But the biggest blow was the Aug. 25 encounter that killed seven alleged ranking leaders of the NPA-KRP’s Regional Taxation Implementation Group (RTIG).
“Their extortion activities were really affected. They’re getting desperate because they have been financially deprived,” Arevalo said.
Part of the recoveries were extortion letters addressed to individuals and companies.
Arevalo confirmed that one of the letters recovered in the Antique incident was sent to CPEC.
On Dec 13, 2015, suspected NPAs also burned CPEK’s heavy equipment – two dump trucks, an Isuzu Elf truck, and another 6×6 truck – in Igbaras town.
Arevalo said the Army and the PNP in Panay have been coordinating their efforts in launching anti-insurgency campaign.
Arevalo also urged human rights groups and advocates of human rights to condemn NPA’s attack on civilians.
He said that what happened in Igbaras was a clear violation of human rights of civilians and Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL).