CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur –Government troops encountered more or less thirty heavily armed NPA rebels who were engaged in extortion activities in Bgy Buenavista, Caramoran Catanduanes at around 8:00am yesterday.
LtCol Romeo Basco, the Commander of the 83rd Infantry Battalion, said that he sent a platoon of his unit led by 1st Lieutenant Juniedy Omandam after receiving a ‘hot’ information from a former NPA rebel who had surrendered to his battalion last year.
“According to my informant, the rebels were distributing PTC cards to local politicians in the said barangay starting yesterday, March 14 just before the Pacquiao-Clottey boxing match. This information was corroborated by the barangay officials whom I reached through text message,” said Basco.
While approaching the reported location, the troops were suddenly fired upon by the rebels who were positioned amidst some local residents in the village. “We did not expect that they will engage us in a firefight considering that they were with civilians. It is clear that they don't care for the residents' safety. returning fire is difficult, hence I directed our Designated Marksmen to fire selectively in order to avoid civilian casualty.", said Omandam.
After the 45-minute firefight, the soldiers recovered six highpowered firearms including three Cal 5.56mm M16 Rifles, two Cal 7.62mm M14 Rifles and a Cal .30 M2 Carbine Rifle. An improvised explosive device (IED) was also recovered by the soldiers along with several blasting caps. No one was injured among the soldiers and the hapless residents who were caught in the midst of the firefight.
A dead rebel identified as a certain Generoso a.k.a. Ka Gene was left behind by the fleeing rebels. He was brought by the soldiers to the municipal hall of Caramoran to be claimed by relatives.
More than a hundred permit-to-campaign (PTC) cards were also found inside the backpacks that were left behind along with voluminous documents with high intelligence value.
“We found out from the recovered documents that the CPP-NPA-NDF has resumed its extortion activities after a brief stop when government troops clashed with the same group on February 20, 2010 resulting to the confiscation of more than 500 PTC cards,” said Major General Ruperto Pabustan, Commander of the 9th Infantry Division.