Philippine Army troops under the 44th Infantry Battalion and armed elements of Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) figured in an encounter on July 17, 2019, in Brgy Diampak, Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay Province.
“Our troops immediately responded to the call of the local populace about the presence of armed CNTs in their community who were extorting money and foodstuffs. While we were approaching, the CNTs fired upon us which led to a firefight,” said Lt. Col. Don Templonuevo, 44th Infantry Battalion Commander.
The firefight which lasted for 30 minutes resulted in the killing of one CNT member and recovery of one M16 Rifle, magazines, ammunition and subversive documents with high intelligence value.
One of the government troops was slightly wounded in the course of the encounter. Said trooper was immediately brought to the nearest hospital for proper medication.
Templonuevo also said, “Our troops saw several wounded CNT members as they scampered to different directions during the encounter.”
The people of Kabasalan also reported to the government troops that they are already fed up with the threat, intimidation and extortion activities of the CNTs in their communities.
It can be recalled that 44IB troopers and the CNTs also figured in an encounter last July 14, 2019.
“We thank the people of Kabasalan for taking action against the CNTs’ threat and extortion activities in their localities,” said Brig. Gen. Bagnus Gaerlan, Jr., commander of 102nd Brigade.
“We also urge other CNTs especially those who were wounded to come out and be given proper medical treatment. We are assuring you of your safety and security. We will also assist you to avail the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for you to live peacefully,” Gaerlan added.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, the 1st Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao Provinces) commander, commended the troops of 44IB for their swift response, and the people of Kabasalan for their cooperation which led to the successful conduct of operations.
“With the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) we will unify and harmonize our peace and development efforts with the local government units, government agencies and other stakeholders to end the local communist armed conflict in the region,” said Ancan
“Our condolences also go to the family of the dead CNT member. It is tragic that he took arms against the government which led to his senseless demise”, added Ancan.
Additional troops were sent to the area to pursue the fleeing CNTs, while the PNP Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) went to conduct an investigation in the encounter area.
The troops of 44IB are also in close coordination with the barangay officials to ensure the safety and security of the residents in the area.