By: PNA and Malu Cadelina Manar
KIDAPAWAN CITY – A New People’s Army rebel who was among those who engaged members of the Presidential Security Group last Wednesday was killed by pursuing government forces in an encounter in Arakan, North Cotabato.
Capt. Silver Belvis, spokesperson for the Army 39th Infantry Battalion, said that the still unidentified NPA carried a bag containing an improvised explosive device when troops recovered his body in Sitio Bugasong, Barangay Napaliko at around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Arakan Mayor Rene Rubino said soldiers from the Army 39th Infantry Battalion brought the body to a funeral parlor in Poblacion at around 7 p.m.
The slain rebel was wearing white T-shirt and camouflage pants and was not among the constituents of Rubino. “No one from Barangay Napaliko knew who the person was. I believe he came from the other town,” said the mayor.
Belvis said the slain rebel was among the more than 50 NPA rebels under Commander Bobby who fled to Barangay Napaliko after engaging members of the PSG near a rebel-manned checkpoint on the Bukidnon-Davao Highway in Barangay Katipunan.
As they fled toward Barangay Naplico, they clashed with joint 39th IB troopers, militiamen, and Arakan police five kilometers from Barangay Katipinan.
Lt. Col. Harold Argamosa, commander of the 39th IB, expressed belief that the NPA suffered casualties and many of them were wounded during the pursuit operations as evidenced by traces of blood in the area. Argamosa added the NPAs carried the bodies of their comrades as they exited from Barangay Napaliko.
Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr. of the Police Regional Office 12 said the Arakan police are still trying to identify the slain rebel.
Citing intelligence information, Belvis said the rebels belonging to the NPA Guerilla Front 56 gathered in Barangay Katipunan before dawn and set up a checkpoint to flag down public transport vehicles.
Residents noticed they were in fatigue uniforms with patches of the 3rd Infantry Battalion and arrived on foot and not on military KM-45 vehicles. They became suspicious and tried to alert village officials when automatic gunfire was heard.
A PSG convoy on its way to Cagayan de Oro City composed of two vehicles encountered the rebels. One of the vehicles was able to turn back and seek help but the other one – a white Ford van with seven PSG members – was trapped.
A firefight ensued in which four PSG members were wounded. Soldiers and other military units assigned near Barangay Gambodes arrived, prompting the rebels to withdraw.
The rebels fled onboard two vehicles and picked a militiaman along the way, used him as human shield, and executed him later. A police civilian agent, Rogelio Genon, was also abducted and his fate remains unknown.