Two suspected New People’s Army (NPA) were killed in separate encounters in Zamboanga del Norte over the weekend.
A group of rebels and Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion (IB) troops engaged in a firefight on Saturday.
Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera of the 53rd IB said the military forces were responding to information from villagers that there was a presence of armed men in Barangay Pange when the rebels opened fire at them.
The encounter lasted 10 minutes.
The suspected NPA rebels retreated and left one caliber .50 rifle (Barrett) with 20 ammunition, one rocket-propelled grenade with two ammunition, one M-16 Armalite rifle, medical paraphernalia, assorted medicines, propaganda materials, and personal belongings.
Meanwhile, on Friday, July 10, the combined troops of the Army’s 44th and 97th IB killed two suspected NPA members in an encounter in Kalawit town, also in Zamboanga del Norte.
According to Col. Leonel Nicolas, chief of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade, the firefight lasted for 45 minutes at Barangay Batayan.
Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, praised the troops for their efforts in fighting against the communist terrorists NPA and “all the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also read: Duterte scraps peace talks with CPP-NPA
Just last week, suspected NPA members abducted a barangay councilor and watchman in the mountainous area of Brgy. Selected, Balud, Masbate.
Authorities are still searching for the victims identified as Noli Dela Cruz, 51 years old, a councilor at Brgy. Mapili and relative Marlon Dela Cruz Bajar, 25 years old, a barangay watchman of the same barangay.
Last month, the military killed NPA member Malvin Christian V. Cruz, who believed to be a minor when the communist group recruited him.
Cruz was from Barangay San Nicolas, Oton, Iloilo. He was a 1st year Bachelor of Arts in Statistics student at the University of the Philippines Visayas-Miagao campus during the school year 2015-2016 when he was recruited to the NPA.
The government earlier said the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law was certified urgent because the NPA continues to sow fear and violence in the country despite the pandemic.
On March 18, the government declared a ceasefire with the NPA as the country prioritizes fighting the deadly virus. The Communist Party of the Philippines or CPP-NPA agreed on March 25.