Butuan City – A soldier of the Philippine Army 23rd Infantry Battalion was wounded after an armed encounter with suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) Monday morning in one of the far-flung village here, as security forces intensified their watch after an NPA raid over the weekend.
“The encounter happened at around 7:20 in the morning of October 23, 2017 in Sitio Malanay, Barangay Nongnong, as a scout platoon of the 23IB pursued an armed band who burned heavy construction equipment worth PhP9 million – four back-hoes, a pay loader and a dump truck – at a nearby rock quarry at dawn Saturday.
“A 10-minute gun battle ensued between our soldiers and around 30 NPAs under Guerilla Front 4A of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee. We believe that this group is headed by a certain Bong,” said Captain Regie Go, Civil Military Operation Officer (CMO) of the 402-Brigade based in Barangay Bancasi, Butuan City.
The wounded soldier was identified as Jesrell L. Amarelle who was shot on his right ankle.
Capt. Go added that they are still trying to verify whether there were NPA casualties, as operating soldiers on the ground claimed to have seen blood stains along their escape route.
Police Chief Inspector Renel E. Serrano, officer-in-charge of the public information office of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO13), disclosed that police personnel were also taking part in the pursuit operation.
“While the soldiers are operating in the forested terrain of the area, our law enforcers under the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) are conducting a parallel police operation in the vicinity. We intensified our operation after the NPA raid,” said Serrano.
The quarry permit is registered to lawyer Gil M. Cembrabo and operated by Ali Bani Martinez.
The NPA has yet to issue a statement regarding the incident.