No one was hurt among government soldiers following an armed encounter with suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) morning of Jan. 11, 2019 in Miag-ao, Iloilo.
Troops from the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion clashed with around 30 suspected rebels from the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon Panay – Southern Front Committee (KRP-SFC) at the vicinity of Sitio Tigmahan, Barangay Alimodias around 8:05 a.m. Friday.
Lieutenant Colonel Sisenando Magbalot Jr., 61st IB commander, said the clash happened while 61st IB personnel were conducting strike operation following consistent reports of NPA sightings in the area.
“It was a definite target. The community tipped us about their presence,” he said.
Magbalot said that the NPA rebels had a bigger number from their usual unit because “prior encounter with our troops dictate that they needed more personnel for defense.”
The firefight lasted for 20 minutes. There was no body count on the part of the rebels.
The group was allegedly led by a certain Joven Ceralvo alias Lex.
But Magbalot said that the NPA troops are all “local” and not from other island like Negros.
He said the area where the encounter happened was the NPA’s temporary harboring area.
Magbalot is not discounting the possibility that the rebels were propositioning themselves for the coming elections.
“But we couldn’t ascertain if they have started giving our permit to campaign on political candidates,” he said.
Given that the election period will start on Jan. 13, Magbalot said the rebels might also become aggressive in their extortion activities.
“But we won’t allow that to happen,” he said.
As such, armed clashes are to be expected.