Military see escalation of NPA retaliatory attacks in North Cotabato

Mindanao Armed Conflict  • Fri Sep 22, 2017 09:38 AM  •  78   0
By John Unson
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NORTH COTABATO --- The military is bracing for retaliations by the New People’s Army for losses in skirmishes with government forces the past three days in hinterland towns in North Cotabato.

The spate of clashes in the adjoining towns of Magpet, Arakan and President Roxas from Monday until late Thursday erupted when NPAs roamed in peasant villages there, causing panic among settlers.

Captain Silver Belvis, spokesman of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion, said on Friday that soldiers also foiled a plan by the NPAs to lay improvised explosive devices along farm trails in Barangay Balite in Magpet.


Personnel of the 39th IB are deployed in strategic areas in Magpet, Arakan and President Roxas to help the police maintain law and order in the local communities.


Soldiers and militiamen recovered about 15 kilos of improvised explosive devices and booby traps from the NPAs they encountered in Barangay Balite, whose residents they subject to periodic collection of money and grains stored in their barnyards.

The explosives were left by the NPAs as they fled in haste carrying four wounded companions.

Another group of NPAs also fired at an Army detachment in Barangay Labuo in President Roxas late Thursday, sparking a gunfight.

Belvis said the NPAs tried, but failed to breach through the defense perimeters of the detachment when guards returned fire with assault rifles and 40 millimeter grenade projectiles.

No one was hurt from among the soldiers and militiamen in the detachment but the bursts of automatic gunfire and explosions scared residents in villages nearby.

“We are anticipating more attacks by the NPA to retaliate for their slain and wounded companions,” Belvis said.

Marauding NPAs killed Joel Batawan, a member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit, in an ambush early Thursday in Barangay Santo Niño in Arakan.

The incident was preceded by a series of rebel-Army skirmishes in far-flung areas in the same town early on.

Batawan was on a motorcycle en route to Barangay Ganatan, Arakan along with a companion when NPAs positioned at one side of the road opened fire with assault rifles killing him on the spot.

Batawan’s companion was wounded in the attack, according to Fred Toring, the incumbent barangay chairman of Santo Niño.

Belvis said they are certain the fatal ambush of Batawan was perpetrated by the NPAs to avenge the deaths of comrades killed in prior hostilities with government forces in Arakan and nearby towns.

Batawan was the second militiaman killed by NPAs in Arakan in a span of three days.

NPAs shot dead in an ambush last Tuesday an off-duty CAFGU member, Jeffrey Bitonio, in Barangay Anapolon, Arakan.

Bitonio was riding his motorcycle on his way home from their detachment when rebels blocked his path and shot him dead with assault rifles.

Bitonio was ambushed by rebels in a populated area, in total disregard of the safety of villagers there. 
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