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7 NPA rebels killed in Antique firefight – Army

/ 09:58 AM August 15, 2018

NPA rebels. INQUIRER FILE / DENNIS JAY SANTOS

Updated @ 11:06 p.m., Aug. 15, 2018

ILOILO CITY — Seven suspected communist rebels were killed on Wednesday in a clash with government troops during a raid at the capital town of San Jose in Antique province, the military said.

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A report from the Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade said two women were among those killed in a firefight that broke out after suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels threw a grenade and fired at the soldiers who were trying to serve an arrest warrant in Barangay Atabay.

It said that Wednesday’s encounter, the first between government troops and rebels in San Jose in decades, lasted about 30 minutes.
The rebels were in a hut beside a makeshift chapel of a local church group.

One of the subjects of the arrest warrant, Joven Ceralvo, escaped during the firefight, according to the report.

Noncombatants

But an NPA spokesperson on Panay Island denied there was a clash.

“Those staying in the house were noncombatants. What happened was a massacre and the weapons and explosives the police and military claimed to have found [there] were all planted,” Ka Julio Montana of the NPA’s Coronacion Chiva “Waling-Waling” Command told the Inquirer by telephone.

Montana said that if there was indeed a 30-minute firefight, the bodies would have been spread out, instead of being found inside or just outside the house.

He said no armed rebel unit was operating in San Jose.

“Like the war on drugs, they just shoot and kill even unarmed noncombatants,” he said.

Police and military officials identified the six slain rebels as Jason Talibo, who was named in the arrest warrant and a native of Igbaras town, Iloilo province; Jason Sanchez of Tubungan town, Iloilo; Rene Yap of Leganes town, Iloilo; Liezel Bandiola of Nabas town, Aklan province; Felix Salditos of Ilog town, Negros Occidental province; and Karen Ceralvo of Kalibo town, Aklan.

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The seventh fatality remained unidentified as of Wednesday noon.

Mobile

Col. Benedict Arevalo, 301st Infantry Brigade commander, said the government had cleared Antique of insurgents, noting that those killed in the clash were “mobile personnel” who moved around Panay.

Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, Western Visayas regional police director, said the group was monitored about three weeks ago.
“They were planning to raid the San Jose police station. They even established a small store near the police station to monitor the activities of the police,” Bulalacao said.

“The raid was conducted when the subjects of the warrant were present in the area together with several other armed people believed to be NPA [rebels],” he added.

Guns, documents seized

Operatives of the San Jose police and the 301st Infantry Brigade recovered antigovernment documents, grenades, assorted firearms and bullets, laptop computers, mobile phones, electronic gadgets and personal belongings from the house.

Also recovered were letters from NPA commands demanding the payment of revolutionary taxes from business firms, police said.

San Jose Mayor Elmer Untaran said that while they suspected that the NPA had made the town a stopover, residents were surprised that a large number of suspected rebels had been staying in Barangay Atabay, less than 2 kilometers from the town hall.

Bulalacao said San Jose residents should not worry despite the incident.
“We are on top of the situation,” he said.

On Friday last week, two policemen were wounded when at least 50 NPA rebels attacked the police station in Lapinig town, Northern Samar province. /cbb /pdi

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