CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur – Suspected NPA bandits spoiled the merry-making during a fiesta celebration by forcibly asking for food provisions among the residents in an upland village of Ligao City yesterday, a military report said.
Responding to the text message sent by one local official in Pinamaniquian village, Ligao City, LtCol John Oberio, Commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion immediately sent a squad of his soldiers to arrest the NPA extortionists at around 8:00pm last night (Tuesday).
The informant was complaining about the presence of heavily-armed rebels during the festivities. At least 5 bandits were roaming around to ask for food provisions from the houses who prepared food for their visitors.
“I wasted no time in sending my selected soldiers upon learning that the bandits stayed comfortably in one of the houses the whole day. I really wanted to show the people that we act on their complaints so that they will continuously support our efforts to flush the rebels out of the villages,” said Oberio.
Reaching the peripheries of the village at around 10:00pm, the soldiers led by 2nd Lieutenant Albert Bellingan found out that the rebels were still having drinking session, mingling with a crowd of civilians inside a house.
The soldiers waited for an opportune time to strike at the rebels as they leave the village.
Firefight erupted at around 2:30am (September 1) when the bandits started firing at the soldiers who approached them as they (rebels) headed towards a hill top about 300m from the village center.
“I really wanted them to peacefully surrender to us but I have no choice but to return fire when they fired the first shot,” said Bellingan, who experienced his first ‘baptism of fire’ during a low-visibility firefight.
The bandits immediately scampered away to various directions with their casualties. The soldiers confiscated a Cal 5.56mm M16A1 Rifle, a backpack full of personal belongings and the sack containing cooked food provisions.
No one was injured among the soldiers who figured in the firefight.
Major General Ruperto Pabustan, Commander of the 9th Infantry Division cited the rising number of civilian informants who provided timely information about the NPA rebels’ activities.
“I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for this valuable assistance from the local residents. I can see the gradual demise of the local terrorist movement in the Bicol Region due to the cooperation by the people, “ said Pabustan.