By TARA YAP
ILOILO City – Just days after attacking a police outpost, the New People’s Army (NPA) engaged soldiers in a gun battle in Leon Town in the province of Iloilo.
In an interview, the commander of the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Batallion Lt. Col. Sisenando Magbalot, Jr. said the clash happened yesterday morning.
According to Magbalot, the NPA rebels are believed to be from the same group that attacked a police station in Maasin town.
Troops of the 61st IB reportedly received information from locals that around 25 to 30 armed men were roaming the mountainous village of Lampayo.
Magbalot confirmed that a barangay tanod has been wounded while troops are verifying if two NPA rebels were wounded during the skirmish which lasted for nearly an hour.
Last June 18, masked men stormed a police station in Maasin town in Iloilo where they disarmed the policemen and handcuffed them and fled with the police patrol car and the firearms.
The rebels, numbering to about 40, took away eight M16 rifles, four Glock pistols, five handheld radio units, two laptop computers, and R29,000 in cash.
Meantime, Senior Supt. Marlon Tayaba, commander of Public Safety Battalion of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), is set to take over the leadership of Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO).
A ground commander that fought Maute terrorist group in Marawi, Tayaba is said to be battle-tested and is expected to instill order in the area that were the recent targets of the NPAs.
Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director Chief Superintendent Cesar Hawthorne Binag said the PNP hierarchy is now processing Tayaba’s transfer from Marawi to Iloilo where he will replace Senior Supt. Harold Tuzon.