Soldier wounded as Army, rebels clash anew

A GOVERNMENT soldier was wounded in yet another armed encounter between Philippine Army troops and suspected New People’s Army (NPA).

Corporal Aldrin Cablas suffered a gunshot wound on the right leg after a squad from the 61st Infantry Battalion clashes with around 20 members of the Baloy Platoon, an NPA unit under the Komiteng Rehiyon Panay – Central Front Committee (KRP-CFC).

A certain Carl Teodosio alias Andorra is believed to be the leader of the NPA member .

Lieutenant Colonel Sisenando Magbalot Jr., 61st IB commander, said the firefight happened 5:30 a.m. of Jan. 14, 2019 at Barangay Cabatangan, Lambunao town.

Cablas was airlifted and brought to Calinog District Hospital for treatment.

Magbalot said there are indications that the rebels there could be fatalities or wounded combatants from the NPA side.

“There were bloodstains found on the encounter site,” he said.

Magbalot said the soldiers were in a combat patrol when they clashed with rebels at Cabatangan, a hinterland village that borders Antique province.

From the town proper, one has to ride a vehicle for about an hour then walk for another three hours to reach the area.

Magbalot said the firefight lasted for about 30 minutes.

The Lambunao encounter is the third in a span of four days that occurred in Iloilo province.

On Sunday, troops from the 61IB also encountered NPA rebels in Barangay Dalije, Miag-ao.

The area is some 3 kilometers from Alimodias village where the January 11 clash happened.

In both instances, no one was injured on the government side.

As Magbalot earlier said, encounters should be expected as they are pressuring the rebels.

“We welcome this development because it means we are doing our job,” he said.

Magbalot said it is also an indication of the active support of the populace, “who keeps feeding us with timely and right information in the presence of rebels.”

On Sunday evening, suspected rebels believed to have fired an M203 grenade at a detachment of the 12th Infantry Battalion’s 3rd Platoon CAA detachment at Barangay Malitbog Ilaya, Bingawan.

Magbalot regarded this as “nuisance harassment” since the rebels were 400 meters away from the detachment.

The two Miag-ao encounters are said to be led by rebels from KRP-Southern Front Committee (KRP-SFC) led by Joven Ceralvo alias Lex.

Magbalot is not discounting the possibility that the rebels were propositioning themselves for the coming elections.

Given that the election period will start on Jan. 13, Magbalot said the rebels might also become aggressive in their extortion activities.

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