Saturday, July 6, 2013

NPA Bicol spokesman among 8 rebels killed in Sorsogon clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 6): NPA Bicol spokesman among 8 rebels killed in Sorsogon clash

The spokesperson of the New People’s Army (NPA)/National Democratic Front in Bicol was among the eight rebels slain in Thursday's encounter in a hinterland village in Juban, Sorsogon, a statement from NPA Celso Minguez Command confirmed Saturday.

Samuel Guerrero, Celso Minguez Command spokesperson, said in the statement obtained by the PNA that Ka Greg Bañares, NDF Bicol spokesperson, was among the eight rebels killed in the encounter with Army soldiers.

Guerrero said aside from Bañares, whose real name was Frankie Joe Soriano, a native of Camarines Sur, other slain rebels were Pehing Hipa, alias Ka Miloy; Christine Puche, alias Ka Nel; Ted Palacio, alias Ka Gary; David Llunar, or Ka Rey; Romero Añonuevo, or Ka Nene; William Villanueva, Jr., or Ka Jay, and Ailyn Calma, alias Ka Kevin -- all members of the communist guerrilla front operating in Sorsogon.

Guerrero condemned the attack as a “treachery,” as he claimed that Bañares, Palacio and Puche were unarmed and were fleeing the scene when soldiers fired at them.

He said the attack carried out by soldiers belonging to the 31st Army Infantry Battalion operating in Sorsogon violated the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The rebel spokesman claimed the attacking soldiers even fired at the dead rebels as “finishing touches” to ensure that they were dead.

Guerrero said the Army troops carted away some P300,000, aside from four laptop computers and high-powered firearms that the soldiers recovered from the fight scene.

Army Col. Joselito Kakilala, 903rd Infantry Battalion commander, said in a phone interview that military intelligence confirmed that Bañares was among the slain rebels.

Kakilala, however, dismissed the rebels’ accusation that the military employed excessive force during the attack, saying “It’s a mere propaganda.”

He said the engagement between the Army soldiers and the NPA rebels resulted in a 35-minute fierce firefight where government forces outmaneuvered the rebels.

He denied that soldiers employed “finishing touches” strategy during the firefight, saying “Our soldiers were trained to engage an enemy on the one shot-one kill rule in engagement.”

When asked on the possible strength of the NPA rebels in Sorsogon, Kakilala said that so far, there are only around 40 armed guerrillas operating in Sorsogon.

He commended his men for a successful combat operation in bringing down the strength of the communist movement, especially the death of Ka Greg Bañares, who he said was one of the movement’s prominent ranking leaders.

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