ZAMBOANGA CITY: Two communist New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists were killed while another was wounded and captured following a clash with government forces in Zamboanga del Sur, military officials announced Thursday.
Two civilians, who were hit by stray bullets, were hospitalized in Pagadian City, the capital of Zamboanga del Sur.
Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, 102nd Infantry Brigade commander, said the clash took place around 5 a.m. Thursday in Barangay Guinlin, Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur.
Nicolas said the firefight ensued as the NPA rebels opened fire, prompting the joint military and police operatives to retaliate, while they were about to serve warrants of arrest against six rebels belonging to the Main Regional Guerilla Unit (MRGU) of the NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC).
The firefight resulted in the death of Felimon Suazo who carries the aliases Jonathan Cruz and Ka Nathan, and James Cordero, whose aliases are Ka James and Ka Tito.
Suazo is an executive committee (Execom) member of the WMRPC, a political instructor and finance officer, as well as a member of the Squad 1 of the MRGU. Cordero is a member of MRGU’s Squad 1.
Nicolas said Suazo has standing warrants of arrest for violation of Republic Act 11479 otherwise known as The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, and for the crimes of attempted murder and arson.
Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, 53rd Infantry Battalion commander, said captured during the firefight was Elvie Doctor, who carries the aliases of Ka Bangkat and Ka Nanang, a member of the WMRPC’s Execom and a political instructor of MRGU.
Doctor, who also served as a propagandist of the WMRPC, has standing warrants of arrest for the crimes of murder and direct assault.
The troops recovered from the clash site several weapons including an M16 Armalite rifle attached with M-203 grenade launcher, a 9-mm pistol, two .45 caliber pistols, and ammunition for 40-mm grenade launcher as well as propaganda materials.
Herrera, without identifying the two injured civilians, a male and a female, said they are in stable condition at a hospital in Pagadian City.
Maj. Gen. Generoso Ponio, 1st Infantry Division commander, said troops were deployed to track down the other fleeing members of the NPA.
“Our message to the remnants of WMRPC remains the same, return to the folds of law and have a chance to be with your families, or face the full force of the law,” he said.
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), commended the troops for their accomplishment.
“I also urge everyone to continuously help and support your armed forces in the fight against terrorism here in Mindanao,” he said.
The 1st Infantry Division has neutralized a total of 51 communist NPA terrorists since January. Four of them were killed, 42 surrendered and five were apprehended.
The Philippine government has officially designated the NPA as a terrorist group, along with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The United States and the European Union also named the CPP–NPA as “foreign terrorist organizations” in 2002 and 2005, respectively.
(Teofilo Garcia, Jr. and Leah Agonoy/PNA/SRNY/RSP)