Wednesday, May 16, 2018

NPA violates self-imposed truce for barangay, SK polls

From Malaya Business Insight (May 16): NPA violates self-imposed truce for barangay, SK polls

NEW People’s Army rebels violated the ceasefire they declared for the barangay and Sanguniang Kabataan elections in Eastern Mindanao by attacking an Army detachment in Esperanza town in Agusan del Sur during the voting on Monday.

No one was killed or injured in the attack but it delayed the election in barangay Sinacungan, said Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesman of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City.

Balagtey said an undetermined number of rebels attacked the detachment, manned by Cafgu forces, around 4 a.m. Monday. He said the two sides traded fire for two hours, until the insurgents withdrew.

Balagtey said the attacked “caused the delay of the voting but the troops immediately restored normalcy and allowed the start of elections in the area a little bit late than the supposed time of opening.”

During clearing operations, Balagtey said soldiers recovered at the encounter site an M16 rifle and one M203 grenade launcher with an index finger believed to be that of a wounded NPA rebel.

Before the election, NPA-Northern Eastern Mindanao Region spokesman Ariel Montero said they observed ceasefire in the region from May 14 up to 18 “in deference to the people’s right to vote freely.”

Eastmincom chief Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal lashed at the NPA for violating their own truce.

In Quezon, a soldier was killed following a clash with NPA rebels who were said to be planning to sabotage the elections in Barangay Umiray in General Nakar town around 3:45 p.m. Monday.

Capt. Patrick Jay Retumban, spokesman of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division in Rizal, said troops from the 202nd Brigade were deployed to conduct operations after receiving reports that a group of rebels was planning to sabotage the election in the barangay.

Retumban said soldiers caught up with about 15 rebels, leading to a 30-minute firefight. He said the rebels withdrew but were again engaged by soldiers in a five-minute clash about an hour later.

A soldier died in the first firefight. The military declined to name the soldier, pending the notification of his family.

On the NPA side, Retumban said two of the rebels were captured during the first encounter. Soldiers also recovered two shotguns, backpacks and rebel documents. 

Retumban said other rebels may have been killed or injured “based on traces of blood.”

He said the election process in the barangay proceeded as scheduled despite the clash.

In Maguindanao, AFP spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo said two M203 grenade explosions occurred in Datu Unsay and Paglat towns before noon and before 3 p.m. Monday, respectively, delaying the elections.

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