ILIGAN City–The Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade belied the text messages of the New People’s Army (NPA) sent to the media that a soldier of the 51st Infantry Battalion, operating in the hinterlands, died in an encounter with the Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC).
Brigadier General Ezra James Enriquez, commander of the 2Mech, said on Sunday that the rebel group is only exaggerating their information and that the military, if ever they will have troops killed in action, cannot conceal the situation as there are family members who will look for the soldiers involved in the operation.
On Sunday, a certain “Roxane” who introduced herself as the spokesperson of the, said in her text messages that one soldier of the 51IB was killed while four were wounded when the operating soldiers were ambushed on Sunday morning, August 11, by “her comrades” in Barangay Indulang, Talakag, Bukidnon.
The area is at the boundary of Barangay Rogongon, Iligan City where it is included in the areas of operation of the 51IB under the operational control of the 2Mech.
Enriquez said the encounter on August 11 involved the 65th Infantry Battalion of the 403rd Infantry Brigade not the 51IB.
Statement of the 65IB said two rebels, allegedly belong to the Squad 1, Platoon 1 of Alias Kira of Sub Regional Sentro de Gravidad (SRSDG), Sub Regional Committee 5 under the North Central Mindanao Regional Command (NCMRC), died in the encounter Barnagay San Rafael, Talakag, Bukidnon, not in barangay Indulang.
The firefight lasted for ten minutes according to the statement.
There was no casualty in the side for the military.
Aside from the bodies, two M16 and an M14 rifles were also recovered from the encounter site.
The information, that there was presence of armed men, was coming from the residents in the area, it added.
“The CNT’s (Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – New People’s Army Terrorist) presence in the vicinity of Barangay San Rafael are possibly recovering their supporters that prompted the 65IB to launch its operations for the safety of the residents, especially former members of the Milisya ng Bayan (MB) who already surrendered and Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL) and Underground Mass Organization (UMO) who withdrew their membership from the CPP and National Democratic Front,” the statement stated.
In July 25, a soldier of the 51IB was wounded when a team of the Army’s Community Support Program (CSP) encountered with a group of armed in Sitio Duwa-duwa in Barangay Kalilangan, Iligan City.
There was no casualty from the government troops but the NPA’s “press release” said seven Army soldiers were killed and that the military was hiding it from the media.
“Hindi natin pwde itago yan kasi may mga pamilya na maghahanap at kung malalaman ng pamilya ang nangyari, lalabas at lalabas ang katotohanan,” Enriquez said.
The CSP teams are assisting a “geographically isolated and disadvantaged area” where residents “are being influenced and exploited by members of the New People’s Army”.
“Ang mga CSP teams natin ay nagdadala ng mga projects at programa ng gobyerno sa mga hinterlands at sila rin ang kumausap sa mga tao upang malaman kung ano ang kailangan ng mga barangay especially doon sa mga tinatawag natin na mga GIDAS or geographically isolated and disadvantage areas at mga conflict affected areas,” Enriquez said.
(Our CSP teams are bringing projects and programs of the government and they conduct dialogues to the community so that we will know the needs of the barangay especially in those we call GIDAS or geographically isolated and disadvantage areas at mga conflict affected areas.)
The series of military operations against the NPA are “positive results of the CSP teams in the upper parts of Iligan City because civilians would inform the military of the presence of the armed men in their area” according to Enriquez.