Saturday, January 8, 2011

6 people killed in clashes with NPA in ComVal, Davao Or.

A soldier, a policeman, and four suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed in separate encounters in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, a week before the start of informal talks in Norway between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front.

Lt. Col. Medel Aguilar, spokesman of the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division, said a soldier, whose identity was withheld, was killed in an encounter with suspected NPA rebels at Sitio Cambaratic in Barangay Libudon in Compostela Valey's Mabini town at about 9:15 a.m. on Saturday.

The casualty belonged to a platoon of soldiers from the Bravo Company of the 71st Infantry Battalion that was conducting a security patrol in the area. 

"The security operations thwarted whatever violent activity that the CTs [communist terrorists] were planning to conduct in the area that will threaten the life of the civilian residents and sabotage their economic activities," Aguilar said. 

Two days earlier, on Thursday, a policeman and four rebels were killed in a separate encounter in Davao Oriental, east of Compostela Valley.

Superintendent Querubin Manalang, spokesman of the Davao Regional Police Office, said the encounter happened near a bridge at Sitio Magum in Barangay Saoquegue in Baganga town at about 8:45 p.m.

The slain policeman, identified as PO1 Junar Lauresta, was wounded on the right thigh and died before reaching the provincial hospital.

Meanwhile, witnesses said four rebels were killed. One body was recovered and identified as a certain Rey Pangalan.

It was not immediately clear how many NPA rebels attacked but they withdrew toward a sill uknown direction after the five-minute firefight.

Authorities said Lauresta belonged to a seven-man police team that rushed to the Baganga bridge after receiving a report that the NPA was planning to torch on-site equipment.

The bridge is under construction by a contractor firm owned by Vicente Lao, who authorities said is a well-known businessman and former head of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce.

"Nakatanggap kami ng intelligence information na susunugin nila yung mga equipment, so inunahan na namin. Sa kasamaang palad nga lang, may namatay sa amin. Pero ganun naman talaga trabaho," said Manalang.

(We received intelligence information that they planned to burn the equipment, so we preempted them. It’s unfortunate that we incurred a fatality. But that’s part of the work we do.)

Investigators suspect that Lao might have refused to pay “revolutionary tax" to the NPA, prompting the rebels to attempt punitive action.

"Hindi pa namin nakausap si Lao pero ganyan naman talaga dito. Kasi kung nagbigay iyan, di naman yan gaganyanin," Manalang said. (We have not talked to Lao yet, but that’s the way it is here. That’s because if he had paid up, they wouldn’t have done that.)—With Mark D. Merueñas, GMANews.TV

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