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3 NPA rebels killed in Sarangani-Davao Sur border clash

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Three suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed while several others were believed wounded in an encounter with government troops over the weekend in the mountainous boundaries of Sarangani and Davao del Sur provinces.

Lt. Col. Adolfo Espuelas Jr., commanding officer of the Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion, said the clash occurred after they responded on Saturday morning to reports on the presence of NPA rebels in villages situated along the boundaries of Malapatan town in Sarangani and Jose Abad Santos in Davao del Sur.

He said their troops caught up with around 25 heavily-armed rebels in Sitio Datal D'lag, Barangay Kulaman of Jose Abad Santos town, where a two-hour firefight ensued.

“We sent our troops to the area to address complaints from tribal residents there that a group of NPA rebels had been reportedly harassing, extorting and forcing them to attend their lectures,” Espuelas said.

After the encounter, the official said they recovered the bodies of three NPA rebels who were only identified by local residents through aliases Marvin, Bobong and Berting.

An undetermined number of rebels were supposedly wounded during the clash as claimed by local residents, Espuelas said.

He said they recovered two M14 rifles, an M16 Armalite rifle, a handheld radio and assorted bullets from the slain rebels.

There were no casualties on the government side, he added.

Citing results of their initial verification, Espuelas said aliases Marvin and Bobong were allegedly team leaders of Squads 1 and 2, respectively, of the “Sentro de Grabidad Andoy” of the NPA’s Front 71 headed by Kumander Brigol.

As of Monday morning, he said no one had come forward to claim the remains of the slain rebels, who were brought to this city late Saturday by a Philippine Air Force chopper.
Espuelas said their troops are currently conducting follow-up operations in a bid to clear the area of the NPA’s presence.

He said the Army’s 1002nd Infantry Brigade based in Malungon town has sent additional troopers under its Task Force Mulawin to augment the clearing operations.

The task force was created earlier this month as part of the renewed operations launched by the 1002nd Brigade against NPA rebels who had taken refuge in upland villages of Malungon town in Sarangani. 

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