From the Mindanao Times (Apr 24, 2020): Army says Paquibato residents need not worry amid NPA clash (BY RHODA GRACE SARON)
Soldiers of the 16th Infantry battalion clashed with an undetermined number of the New People’s Army rebels in Sitio Kapehan, Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District at 3:20 p.m. on Wednesday.
1Lt. Jeffrey Paulo Alba, the civil-military operations officer of the 16th IB, said two soldiers were slightly wounded and now recovering in a hospital in Davao City after they encountered members of Guerrilla Front 55.
Accordingly, soldiers received information from a concerned citizen regarding the presence of an armed group in the area.
After a moment, as the blocking troops were occupying their position, an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated to dissuade the government troops from pursuing the terrorists. The device exploded prematurely and only inflicted minor injuries.
Alba assures residents that they have nothing to fear because the soldiers are in pursuit of the rebels. “Our focused military operations continue,” he said, adding that there was no reported evacuation of families in the area.
He said the encounter site was quite a distance away from the barangay proper.
“These organized crime groups are trying to visit their former contacts in Paquibato as a prelude to recover Paquibato District, which was their former stronghold, ” Alba said.
He said the attempt to recover their mass bases in Paquibato was disrupted by the presence of the soldiers.
Lt. Col. Joel Salaguinto, the 16th IB commander, declared that “Paquibato District of Davao City is still a peaceful and conflict-resilient community.”
“This incident with the communist terrorist group is a clear manifestation that they are attempting to recover their mass bases for the reason that they are running out of space and can no longer acquire assistance from their mass supporters in the communities,” Salaguinto said.
“Needless to say, they cannot hide much longer. Thus, we need your continued full support to end the CTGs from disrupting peace and development in the whole city,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mayor Sara Duterte said in a statement that the NPA has once again exposed itself
“as the devil incarnate” when it attacked soldiers.
“The terroristic attack came days after it announced, along with the Communist Party of the Philippines, that it was extending its self-declared ceasefire to April 30 — that we can only say now as a total sham,” the statement read.
She said the attack only proved that the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the NPA are truly the enemies of the people and the government.
“We condemn this attack as this happened at a time when we are supposed to be working together against COVID-19,” she said. “We can clearly expect nothing from the NPA terrorists — not even the slightest compassion for the people. It cannot even feign concern.”