Army lieutenant slain in Quezon clash
LUCENA CITY –– A junior officer of the Philippine Army died in a running encounter that happened Friday, Feb. 5, in Quezon province, where two other soldiers were also killed, a belated report from the military said.
The Army’s 201st Infantry Brigade reported on its Facebook page on Feb. 7 that First Lieutenant Romeo Sabio Jr. was killed in an encounter with a group of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Sitio (sub-village) Hinapay in Barangay San Roque in Catanauan town around 6 p.m.
The report said Sabio, a member of the Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion, was leading a hot pursuit operation against the fleeing NPA guerrillas when they were fired upon by the rebels led by one “Cecilia Mondia,” alias “Mitch/Anik,” who positioned themselves on the mountainous area.
Sabio was hit by bullets and died on the spot, the report said.
“Saludo kaming lahat sa ipinakita niyang tapang at kagitingan sa serbisyo niya sa ating bayan. Siya ay magiging inspirasyon naming mga sundalo sa patuloy naming pagtupad sa aming tungkulin,” Brigadier General Norwyn Romeo Tolentino, 201st Infantry Brigade commander, said in a statement.
(We salute his courage and bravery in service for our country. He will be an inspiration to us, soldiers, as we continue to fulfill our duties.)
The military claimed that an NPA rebel was also killed in the encounter. The report did not provide further detail on the supposed slain guerrilla.
Two soldiers were also killed and another one wounded in a clash in another part of the same sub-village around noon on Friday.
The military alleged that the rebels also suffered an undetermined number of casualties in the said encounter.
In an earlier battle in neighboring Buenavista town around 4 a.m., the military reported that a certain Ronnel Batarlo, alias “Ka Marwin, and an alleged NPA top commander in the province, was killed in the encounter. The remaining rebels managed to escape.
Another soldier was also allegedly injured in the battle.
The NPA unit was allegedly the same group that clashed with the combined police and Army team in Barangay Bulo in Mulanay town on Feb. 2.
Ternio said at least eight soldiers, including Sabio and 28 alleged NPA rebels, have died in encounters in the Southern Tagalog region from January 2000 to the present.
Major General Greg Almerol, 2nd ID commander, honored the memory of the soldiers killed in action.
“Our soldiers’ devotion to duty entails danger and even giving the ultimate sacrifice. However, this will never hinder us [from] carrying on our mandate to free the people from the clutches of terrorism that impede our nation’s progress,” Almerol said in a statement.
Almerol also lamented the death of NPA rebels and renewed his call for the remaining guerrillas to lay down their arms, return to the fold of the law, and reunite with their loved ones.
“We, call [on] the last of the few NPA terrorists to surrender, avail [themselves of] government programs, and be one of us in this fight to push insurgency to its end,” he said.
Through the intensified campaign of government forces, “more and more rebels surrendered and chose the path to peacefully live with their families as productive citizens of the country,” he said.
Last year, more than 167 NPA rebels surrendered in Southern Tagalog, Ternio claimed.
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