By Mike U. Crismundo and Nonoy E. Lacson
Camp Bancasi, Butuan City – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) scored major victories over the New People’s Army (NPA) when government troops seized a major rebel camp in Compostela Valley (ComVal), and secured the release of 10 insurgents in Zamboanga Peninsula (ZamPen).
According to Second Lt. Honeylee Joy S. Maunahan, acting Civil Military Operation (CMO) officer of the Army’s 66th Infantry Battallion (66th IB) here, soldiers were able to over-run a one-hectare NPA camp in Sitio Side 4, Barangay Mangayon in ComVal, following a fierce encounter with about 50 rebels Thursday.
In Zamboanga City, Joint Task Force ZamPeLan Commander Maj. Gen Rolando Joselito Bautista reported that seven NPAs surrendered in Zamboanga Sibugay, while three others gave up their arms in Zamboanga del Sur.
The NPAs surrendered to the government last Thursday and Friday, according to Bautista.
Those who surrendered in Zamboanga Sibugay were Henry Bawan Becsala, alias Natoy; Benbin Gumandag Mandaw, alias Lito; Mario Oksik Maghanaoy, alias Rex; Lauravel Obaran Niadas, alias Maribel; Villa Neadas, alias Sandra; Marcelino Gumangay Lavares, alias Ruben; and Joseph Gumangay Lavarez, alias Michael.
Those who surrendered in Zamboanga del Sur were Roselyn Terez and Dolly Terez of Dinas town Paulino Laurete, Jr., of San Miguel town.
Maunahan said a team from the 66th IB was dispatched to the area of Dash 7 in Sitio Side 4 to confirm reports about the presence of a large number of rebels from the guerilla-Front Committees 20 and 25, and Pulang Bagani Company (PBC) 8 of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.
A firefight erupted at around 10 a.m. when the soldiers chanced upon three rebels planting landmines along a road in the area.
“The team was able to hold and sustain the hour-long firefight where they served as forward observer for the artillery fires towards the enemy location,” she said.
The 66th CMO Officer also said the delivery of accurate artillery fires and the bravery of the team members despite being outnumbered forced the rebels to withdraw and abandon their camp.
Recovered in the encounter site were one M16A1 rifle, two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), assorted enemy personal belongings, food stuff and other war materials, she said.
There was no casualty on the government side while the communist rebels were believed to have incurred casualties as per reports received by the unit from the civilians, she added.