Army-NPA battle subsides in Batangas; lone fatality reported
SAN PEDRO CITY — The gunbattle between soldiers and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Batangas City has subsided, with hundreds of evacuees returning to their homes and schools reopening on Wednesday.
Marie Lualhati, Batangas city spokesperson, said the evacuees had gone home as the situation in the province’s capital returned to normal.
Except for the Talahib Pandayan Elementary and High Schools, classes in 13 other schools close to the encounter site have resumed, she said.
The clash erupted Sunday morning on Mt. Banoy in Barangay (village) Talumpok Silangan, about an hour and half travel from the Batangas City proper. Members of the 730th Combat Group of the Philippine Air Force seized a supposed rebel training camp.
The rebels were led by Mario Macaraig, alias Jethro, of the NPA front “Honda.”
A series of airstrikes was launched by the military on Sunday evening as skirmishes went on for three days, forcing residents to flee.
According to Col. Arnulfo Burgos, commander of the Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade, clashes have subsided although pursuit operations continued.
Burgos and militant rights group Karapatan, in separate reports, identified a lone fatality as John Ryan Makatigbak, 23, from Balayan, Batangas.
The remains of Makatigbak (not John Ray Mendoza as initially reported by Karapatan) was claimed by his family on Wednesday morning. The government did not suffer any casualties.
Batangas police director Sr. Supt. Randy Peralta, meanwhile, called on the public to “relay” to wounded rebels to seek treatment in hospitals or to surrender. /cbb
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