3 soldiers killed in Bukidnon clash; lieutenant dies in DavOr ambush

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/03 February) — Three Army soldiers were killed in a clash with communist guerrillas in Bukidnon only hours after the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army announced the termination of their unilateral ceasefire declaration.

Ka Allan Juanito, NPA spokesperson for North Central Mindanao, said the soldiers, who belonged to the 8th Infantry Battalion were intercepted by a rebel unit at around 5pm in Sitio Kalib, Barangay Kibalabag, Malaybalay City last Feb. 1.

Juanito said the soldiers were aboard two motorcycles and armed with three caliber .45 pistols.

“The soldiers tried to resist and pulled out their guns prompting our guerrillas to fire first in self defense,” he said in a statement.

The NPA official said they identified one of the soldiers as Pat Olango, of Barangay Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City through his identification papers.

Capt. Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division said they are withholding the names of the soldiers pending notification of their families.

Martinez said the soldiers were conducting Bayanihan Team Activity in Kibalabag for a month, and were returning to their headquarters to attend to some matters and get their food allowances.

He said the NPA waylaid the soldiers as they were returning back to the village.

“Our soldiers recovered the bodies around midnight. The bodies bore multiple gunshot wounds,” he said.

The NPA also burned two equipment of fruit giant Del Monte Philippines and a dump truck owned by a Bukidnon landowner.

On Wednesday, the CPP-NPA said it was terminating the unilateral ceasefire because the government “has complied the non-compliance by government with its obligation to amnesty and release of political prisoners,” and has “treacherously taken advantage of the unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire to encroach on the territory of the people’s democratic government.”

It said the unilateral ceasefire ends on 11:59 pm of February 10.

Also on Wednesday, the NPA ambushed troops of the 67th Infantry Battalion in Manay, Davao Oriental leading to the death of 2Lt Miguel Victor Alejo and the wounding of Pvt Peter Sumatin, the Eastern Mindanao Command said.

The incident occurred in Sitio Paliwason, Barangay Lamboh, Manay.

The EastMinCom said the soldiers were responding to reports that armed men were extorting money and forcibly collecting foodstuff from store owners and farmers in the area.

The slain lieutenant was a member of Philippine Military Academy “Sinag-Lahi” Class of 2015.

The NPA in Southern Mindanao refuted the military’s claim that soldiers came for an anti-crime operation.

In a statement dated February 2, the rebel group said the soldiers “were already deployed for combat operation in the villages of Kayawan, del Pilar and Kapasnan in the hinterlands of Manay town. The next day, February 1, the AFP troops interrogated several masses in the community on the whereabouts of the Red fighters.”

“At midday, while maneuvering to evade the enemy’s four-column combat operation, the NPA unit was fired upon by the scout platoon of the 67IB. Immediately, Red fighters maneuvered to retake the initiative and engage the enemy. Killed in the encounter was 2Lt. Victor Alejo, while another enemy troop was severely wounded. As the Red fighters safely withdrew from the clash site, the 67th IB soldiers waylaid two civilians in their frenzied shoot-out after the firefight,” the statement added.

On Wednesday, the CPP-NPA said it was terminating the unilateral ceasefire because the government “has complied the non-compliance by government with its obligation to amnesty and release of political prisoners,” and has “treacherously taken advantage of the unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire to encroach on the territory of the people’s democratic government.”

It said the unilateral ceasefire ends on 11:59 pm of February 10. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)

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