Wounded NPA fighter in Nasugbu clash dies in hospital
SAN PEDRO CITY – A female rebel wounded in the encounter between the government troops and New People’s Army (NPA) in Nasugbu, Batangas on Tuesday night died in the hospital on Wednesday.
This brought the number of communist insurgents reported killed from the clash to 15.
The latest fatality was identified as Ella Rodriguez, although authorities doubt it was her real name as she could have given an alias.
Major Engelbert Nioda, commander of the 730th Combat Group of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), said Rodriguez died Wednesday morning while being treated at the Fernando Air Base hospital in Lipa City also in Batangas.
Nioda himself is confined in the facility after sustaining gunshot wounds in the stomach, arm, and foot.
Also wounded from the government’s side were PAF 2Lt. Eliseo Insierto, who sustained a gunshot wound in his foot, and two Philippine Army soldiers.
Tuesday’s skirmish took place around 8:30 p.m. in the villages of Aga and Kaylaway in Nasugbu town.
In a phone interview, Nioda said they were tipped off by a concerned citizen that two vehicles, a jeepney, and a closed van, ferrying armed rebels, were in the area. The suspected rebel’s vehicles sped past a checkpoint and were tailed by government soldiers until the firefight erupted.
“It seemed like a convoy. First a Montero (carrying PAF soldiers), then the enemy’s van, then three more (government) vehicles, the (NPA’s) jeep, then us,” Nioda said in a phone interview.
Authorities said five from the jeep were instantly killed in the initial clash. As this happened, another clash took place, about two kilometers away, resulting in the death of nine more rebels. No one was killed from the government’s side.
Nioda said an undetermined number of rebels had escaped towards a sugarcane farm and are being tracked down.
“This is almost the whole of the NPA’s Western Batangas command. It would really take them a while (to recover),” he said.
Last week, the government overran an NPA camp resulting to a series of clashes in the villages of Utod and Bunducan, also in Nasugbu.
Nine people, claiming to be human rights workers, were subsequently arrested by the Nasugbu police on suspicions of being NPA rebels. They were later released after being charged with attempted murder.
Arnold Evangelista, of the group Batangas Integrated Human Rights Advocates, said some of the cadavers of the slain rebels are currently at St. Peter’s funeral home in Nasugbu.
Lino Baez, of human rights group Karapatan, said among those killed were four still unidentified females. /kga
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