BY CRIS DIAZ
JASAAN, Misamis Oriental – Three top rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed, more than 100 evacuated as gun battle continues in the hinterland villages of Jasaan in Misamis Oriental, local officials said Saturday.
Town Mayor Redentor Jardin, of Jasaan said, that the fighting reportedly started Friday morning in Natubo, Jasaan, a village in the boarder of San Nicolas, another farflung village part of the town of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.
Jardin said that he was surprised on receiving the report considering that the reported armed skirmishes in the hinterlands of Jasaan took place about 30 years ago.
“The reported armed encounter between the NPA and the military in Jasaan was an isolated one,” Jardin said while confirming the reported evacuation of about 35 families to a safer ground.
Village Chief Francisco Luntiao, of Natubo, said that 35 families composed of about 130 individuals have evacuated to the village center and were extended food packages.
Luntiao said that the residents of the affected villages would be allowed to return to their farms and homes only after the military issued a clearance to return home.
Lt. Col. Ricky L. Canatoy, Commanding Officer of the 58th Infantry Battalion, said that the first encounter occurred at 7 a.m. in the hinterlands of Barangay Plaridel, Claveria in Misamis Oriental.
He said that the armed clashed turned into a running gun battle when the state forces, while on hot pursuit, discovered the NPA rebels’ hideout in the area.
Canatoy identified the three top NPA rebels as Agay Taquin, alias Kerby, the Vice Commander of Platoon Falcon, Sub-Regional Command (SRC)1, North Central Mindanao Committee (NCMRC); Andrew Odiongan, alias Dave, political instructor of SRC 1, NCMRC; and Joan Pajardo, alias Amirgo, Team Leader B of Squad 1, Guerilla Force (GF) Huawei, SRC 1.
He said that the military also captured three high powered fire arms and ammunition consisting of one KG9, one M16 rifle, one Carbine rifle, one long magazine for M16 loaded with ammunition, one magazine for carbine loaded with ammo, five tents, personal belongings, and subversive documents.
The fatalities were brought to the municipal town of Balingasag after two of the slain rebels were reportedly identified to be residents in the hinter villages of Balingasag.
No casualties were reported on the government side, but the military continue to operate as traces of blood stains were noticed in the encounter site. -0-