WERE members of the New People’s Army (NPA) up for a bigger plan other than extortion activities when they encountered Philippine Army troops in Janiuay, Iloilo?
Possibly so, both the 61st Infantry Battalion and the local police claimed.
Senior Insp. John Paul Guay, Janiuay police chief, said they received information that the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and materials for making IEDs, which were recovered at the encounter site, were meant to bomb the nearby towns of Lambunao or Cabatuan.
Both towns celebrated their annual religious fiesta on Sept 10.
Before the encounter that happened afternoon of Sept 8 at Barangay Guadalupe in Janiuay, the rebels reportedly went trained on bomb making at Barangay Cabatangan in Lambunao.
Lieutenant Colonel Sesinando Magbalot Sr, 61st Infantry Battalion commander, said he also received reports of the alleged NPA bombing.
Magbalot also linked the plan to the bomb threat on Lambunao National High School in Poblacion Ilawod, Lambunao, Iloilo on August 28, 2018.
During the incident, a package, which turned out to be a hoax bomb, was found inside the female comfort room.
It was made of cardboard tube filled with sand, tied with a wire, wrapped in electrical tape, with a fully wired circuit board and phone battery.
Although the bomb had complete wirings, Chief Inspector Jogen Suegay of Lambunao police explained that it would not explode because it lacked a blasting cap and contained sand instead of black powder.
“The NPAs could have planted it to test how the authorities would react,” Magbalot said.
The rebels may have hatched the scenario to force government troops to respond and bomb them along the way.
Luckily, the plan was busted, Magbalot said.
A member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) was killed in the Janiuay encounter.
Virgilio Loraña, 41, of Barabgag Monte Magapa in Janiuay, sustained a gunshot wound on the back portion of his body and a stab injury on the right portion of his abdomen.
Aside from IEDs and IED materials, authorities also recovered two M16 armalite rifles, an AK47 assault rifle, and several backpacks with two laptops.