BUTIG, Lanao del Sur--Two soldiers of the army's 49th Infantry Battalion were wounded in an encounter on Sunday morning (July 28) with a group of armed men believed to be members of the Guerilla Front 12 of the Sub-Regional Committee 5 of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sitio Pangulingan, Barangay Sabala Bantayao, Lumba Bayabao, Lanao del Sur.
Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Allan Villanueva, chief of the Army’s 49th Infantry Battalion, said the government troops were able to discover an encampment in the area but before they have finally penetrated it, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded about 20 meters away from the camp, “beside an old logging road”.
The explosion hit the two soldiers identified as Corporal Harvey Robrigado and Private First Class Juland Rubio.
Robrigado was hit on his right rib while Rubio was hit on his right hand by shrapnel.
“They detonated the IED to delay the movement of the government troops. Our two wounded soldiers sustained shrapnel sounds due to 40mm blast. They are now in safe condition at a hospital in the 4th ID,” Villanueva said.
The three battalions of the 103rd Infantry Brigade and the 15th Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) started their combat operation on Friday (July 26) is in response to the reports from the community that around 50 armed men are camping in the area for almost a month.
Although it does not look like a training camp, Villanueva said, there is an indication that a “medical training” was conducted and several subversive documents were discovered in the area.
“Residents in the area reported that these armed men are ‘inviting’ selected families, Meranao and Christian, one at a time. It is their way of recruiting sympathizers,” Villanueva said.
Brigadier General Romeo Brawner, Jr., chief of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi City, in this latest operation against the rebels, the military is sending a message that the NPA is not welcome in Lanao del Sur.
It started when the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) declared NPA a persona non-grata.
“In our assessment, the NPA would like to establish here in Lanao del Sur because this is their source of ammunitions and firearms and second, they know that a huge amount of money is coming for the rehabilitation of Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, they want to get a share. That is their activities, they are extortionists,” Brawner said.
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