6 soldiers dead, 20 wounded in Eastern Samar clash
Updated @ 1:42 a.m., Nov. 13, 2019
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte, Philippines — Six soldiers were killed and 20 others wounded in a clash with communist rebels in a remote village in Borongan City, Eastern Samar, the military said on Tuesday.
One of the New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas was also killed.
The soldiers, all belonging to the Army’s 14th Infantry Battalion based in Oras, also in Eastern Samar, were deployed to Sitio Bangin, Barangay Pinana-an, late Monday when they encountered some 50 guerrillas.
The rebels also set off six improvised explosive devices during the hourlong battle.
In a statement, the Army’s 8th Infantry Division (ID) said the soldiers were in the area to provide security to the villagers who had lost money and foodstuff to extortion by the rebels.
The Army casualties were a major blow to the government’s campaign to crush the insurgency in the region, particularly on Samar Island.
Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso III, division commander, condemned the attack as he and other troops honored the fallen soldiers on Tuesday, calling them “heroes [who] fought gallantly and bravely until the last breath and last drop of their blood.”
He earlier said that the military was determined to end the communist insurgency in Eastern Visayas by 2020 as directed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The fatalities were identified as Sgt. Rex Jadulco, Corporals Ronaldo Go and Limar Banug; Privates First Class Kent Loyd Agullo and Junmar Buranday, and Pvt. Charlie del Rosario.
Their bodies had already been retrieved from the encounter site, six hours by sea travel from the Borongan city center. The village has been identified as an area “infiltrated” by rebels.
The wounded were airlifted to Camp Lukban, headquarters of the 8th ID, and to other hospitals in Borongan. They included Sergeants Kenneth John Arcina, Cyril Baja, Marlon Orsal and Rando Soria; Privates First Class Gilbert Rene Gado, Albert Abegonia, Denmark Gonsaza, Dandreb Gealon, Reil Bilason, Rex Batis Jr., Rene Abuda and Jerwin Ormob; Privates Darwin Aborquez, Mark Geric de Leon, Jayson Beros, Joshua Pacuan and Roger Moore Ditche; and Corporals Dominador Antonio, Linlito Donayre and Aljin Aguillos.
Soldiers were now pursuing the guerrillas, the Army statement said.
Borongan Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda described the clash as a “very unfortunate” but isolated incident.
He expressed concern that it might affect the city’s efforts to attract tourists and investors.
“I am personally condemning this incident, especially so that they used landmines against the soldiers — some of them could be young, being just privates,” Agda said.