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Army soldier, 4 rebels slain in new clashes in Sorsogon

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines — A suspected commander of the New People’s Army (NPA) and his three companions were killed in a firefight with Army soldiers in a remote village in Matnog town, Sorsogon province, on Sunday, the military reported.

Maj. Ricky Aguilar, public affairs chief of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division based in Camarines Sur, said Robert Estiller, alias “Cindy”/“Meo,” was killed, along with his three companions, in the encounter at Barangay Tugas (not Calpi as earlier reported by Bicol police) in Matnog.

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Aguilar said Estiller was the commanding officer of the NPA Sentro De Garbidad, Larangan 2, operating in Sorsogon. His three companions were immediately identified.

Maj. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, Bicol police spokesperson, earlier identified the slain rebel leader as Arnel Estiller, alias “Mando.” She said a platoon of Army soldiers chanced upon a 60-member NPA group led by Estiller. The fighting continued through Sunday afternoon.

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Isabela encounter

Aguilar said government soldiers were still going after the remaining NPA rebels who fled to the mountainous areas of Matnog.

On Saturday, an Army corporal was reported killed while two other soldiers were wounded during an encounter with NPA rebels in Echague town, Isabela province.

Maj. Noriel Tayaban, Army 5th Infantry Division spokesperson, identified the fatality as Cpl. Adonis Galera of Pinukpuk town, Kalinga province.

The wounded were Cpl. Harold Ganagan of Tinglayan town in Kalinga and Cpl. Fajardo Manuel of Paracelis town, Mountain Province.

Tayaban said the soldiers, who belonged to the 86th Infantry Battalion, were sent to Barangay Villa Rey in Echague after receiving reports that suspected rebels were trying to extort for the NPA anniversary on Dec. 26.

The military operation resulted in a 20-minute gunfight with the rebels, some of whom were also reportedly wounded.

Tayaban said Galera fired at the rebels but was killed. Ganagan and Manuel were taken to a private hospital in Santiago City.

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On Friday, a policeman and two civilians were killed while 17 others were hurt in an ambush allegedly staged by NPA rebels at Barangay Libuton, Borongan City, Eastern Samar province.

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TAGS: communist rebels, NPA, Sorsogon clashes
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