CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camsur – One bandit lay dead and one firearm was seized in the fresh fighting between government forces and the NPA terrorist rebels in Sorsogon’s election hotspots, a military official said today.
LtCol Santiago Enginco, Commander of the 49th Infantry Battalion based in Sorsogon, said that fresh fighting occurred in Sta Lourdes village of Barcelona town at 6:30am yesterday, October 20 (Wednesday).
1st Lieutenant Sandro Sereno, the Commanding Officer who led the security operations in the area, said that he received a text message about the presence of the bandits in the village last night.
He immediately proceeded to the area to check on the report and act on the complaint of the concerned resident that they were forced to vote for the rebels’ favored candidates.
“Upon seeing the rebel’s location inside the house, we patiently waited for them to come out to arrest the five of them. However, they immediately fired their guns at us upon seeing that we are were approaching them,” said Sereno.
Sereno said that one rebel lay dead clutching his Cal 5.56mm M653 “Baby Armalite” after the initial exchange of gunfire. The two others were also wounded but managed to escape by using the civilians as human shields.
The soldiers also seized a Cal .45 pistol, a MK2 Fragmentation Grenade, a rifle Grenade and a combat pack full of subversive documents and some campaign materials.
One child sustained minor bullet splinter wound and he was immediately treated by the Army medics. Sereno said that his wound was a like a minor scratch but they have ensured that proper medication was immediately given.
Enginco said that his troops are now pursuing the bandits following the trail of blood along their escape route. The dead rebel was fetched by an Army truck and brought to Barcelona town for identification and autopsy.
Army soldiers are in the hot trail for the bandits who are reported to be intensifying its election campaigning activities in Bicol’s election hotspots. There were reports that the rebels threatened some of the candidates and their supporters.
Last week, one bandit was collared by government troops after a gunfight with government troops in Magallanes town.
Army records show that Bicol Region has 70 villages placed as Category 1 and 241 villages as Category 2 of the COMELEC’s tally of Election Watchlist of Areas (EWAS) or “hotspots”.
Sorsogon has 61 villages as Category 2 ‘hotspots’ with Gubat town having the most number with 13 followed by Sorsogon City with 10 villages. Barcelona town has three villages listed as Category 2 EWAS including Sta Lourdes village.
The AFP and PNP earned accolades for their successful security operations during the May 2010 elections with the least number of election-related violent incidents (ERVIs) as compared to the 2004 and 2007 elections. The said national election was said to be the most peaceful in Bicol’s election history.
Major General Ruperto Pabustan, Commander of the 9th Infantry Division has directed all Army units in the Bicol Region to further intensify its security operations to sustain the gains made by the government.