Manila: A total of 15 insurgents were killed following two clashes occurring simultaneously in Nasugbu, Batangas, south of Manila on Tuesday.
The encounters between the government forces and the communist New Peoples’ Army (NPA) represents the biggest single day loss for the insurgents since government forces resumed their offensive following the collapse of peace negotiations amid continuing attacks by rebel forces, officials and reports said.
Major Mikko Magisa, executive officer of the 2nd Infantry Division’s 202nd Infantry Brigade, was quoted as saying in a government report that simultaneous clashes took place in the villages of Aga and Kalaway at around 8:30pm on Tuesday.
Following information that a large group of NPAs are present in the two villages, the government deployed commandos of the Philippine Air Forces’ 730th Combat Special Operations wing as well as the Army 202 Infantry Brigade as well as local police units to the area.
One of the group, which was aboard several vehicles, was being chased by government forces when the encounter erupted. Magisa, was among the two government personnel wounded in the clash.
Five of the 15 dead rebels were killed at Aga while nine others died in Kaylaway.
Among those killed in the clash was a ranking NPA guerrilla, Josephine Santiago-Lapera, according to Maj. Gen. Rhoderick Parayno, commander of Army’s 2nd Infantry Division. The wounded guerrilla died in a hospital in Batangas.
The combat operations in Batangas came on the heels of a series of attacks by rebels on government forces over the past several weeks.
“This is the second encounter we had since last week with the rebels. There were no rebels killed but we were able to capture some of them. Unfortunately, the prosecutor decided to release them,” Senior Supt. Alden Delvo was quoted by radio station dzMM as saying.
Parano said the intensified military operations against the insurgents were in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to go after the rebels following their continued attacks on government forces and business interests.
“We appeal to the NPA to surrender and be productive citizens in their communities. We are offering them the opportunity to live normal lives, be with their families, enjoy the benefits of becoming productive citizens and reap the fruit of their hard-earned labour. We will help them. They refuse and this is the result.”
He said the government will use all means against the rebels. “All available assets, including aircraft, are on red alert. The NPA will face the full might of the government that is why we call on their families to convince their relatives who are still blinded by their take on extortion activities to give up their arms and prevent them from suffering the fate of the 15 terrorists who died tonight.”