Army foils NPA rebels' terrorism plans for Ilocos-Cordillera regions
By Freddie G. Lazaro
Narvacan, Ilocos Sur (September 14) -- A high ranking army official claimed last Monday that the terrorism campaign plans by the New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Ilocos-Cordillera regions were foiled after the surprise attack by government troops on rebels' temporary encampment in the hilly area in Barangay Pila East, Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur last Friday.
This developed when the army troopers recovered several documents stating the NPA rebels' plans on terrorism in the two regions during mopping operation after the 1- hour firefight.
It was reported that before the surprise attacked by the army troopers, the NPA rebels were conducting their regional plenum believed to be in connection with their plans of attacking government troops and communication facilities; and terrorizing the ordinary civilians.
The gunbattle between the government troopers and a group of at least 70 fully - armed NPA rebels was lasted for 1 hour after the rebels withdrawn in the encounter site dragging their comrades believed to be wounded but they left one M-16 Armalite Rifle, USB flash disks, and five (5) packs of personal belongings, one laptop computer, three cellphones, one handy camera and several subversive documents of the communists's terrorist movement. However, one soldier was slain during the encounter.
Major General Rommel A. Gomez, Commander of the army's 5th Infantry Division, reported that the troops are presently pressing the pursuit operations with the use of tracking dogs believing that the NPA rebels are just hiding in the nearby areas.
With the presence of scattered blood stains in the area of encounter, General Gomez is strongly believed that many NPA rebels are wounded during the encounter.
General Gomez with Colonel Essel C. Soriano, Commander of the army's 503rd Brigade went last Saturday in the encounter site at Barangay Pila East, Santa Lucia town to further verify the enemy camp
During the thorough search on the encounter site last Saturday; the army troopers were also unearthed two (2) bag packs hidden along the rebels' withdrawal routes. The bags were contained explosives, subversive documents and several personal belongings.
In his meeting with the local officials in Sta. Lucia town, Gomez clarified that the military has nothing to do with the disappearance of a certain Elmer Valdez, a resident in Barangay Conconig East.
Valdez is reportedly missing as of presstime after he went to the vicinity near the NPA's encampment to gather bamboos when the firefight ensued.
"Mr. Valdez might have been a victim of the NPA rebels as their human shield during the encounter," he said.
"Our soldiers are the real protectors of the people and not the oppressors unlike the NPA rebels who have long intimidating the people in the area," he said.
He cited a case of a certain Mr Franklin Altura who was missing during the encounter and was allegedly abducted by the soldiers.
"The allegation was not then true because our soldiers were the one who help him in reaching his home last Saturday morning. His family likewise extended their gratitude for the assistance of our soldiers extended and eventually erased their doubts that the soldiers might have abducted their kin," Gomez disclosed.
Meanwhile, Gomez urged the local officials to cooperate with the military in the area and help in looking out for Mr Valdez.
It was also learned a day before the encounter between the soldiers and the NPA rebels in Barangay Pila East, Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur, the remains of missing farmer identified as Nicolas Ramos of Barangay Poblacion in Salcedo town was exhumed in the boundaries of Barangays Atabay and Loc-oban, both in Salcedo, Ilocos Sur. Ramos was reportedly missing since July 24, 2010 and was allegedly kidnapped by 20 fully - armed men roaming in Salcedo and its nearby towns of Galimuyod, Sta. Lucia and Sta. Cruz. (PIA Ilocos Sur) [top]