2 Army soldiers, 1 civilian killed in fresh NPA offensive in Quezon
LUCENA CITY – Two Army soldiers and one civilian were gunned down by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Gumaca, Quezon Tuesday evening, in what the military believed was the start of renewed offensives by the dwindling local communist insurgents to reclaim lost grounds.
“They (NPA) plan to conduct an offensive to recover lost areas and their mass base. This is the fastest in their plan,” Colonel Roderick Parayno, commander of the 201st Infantry Brigade operating in Quezon, said in a phone interview Wednesday.
The Army official said the NPA aims to frighten local villagers to regain their support by force.
Chief Insp. Romulo Albacea, Gumaca police chief, said that at around 7 p.m. Tuesday, the two slain soldiers, Private First Class Christopher Antonio Dingle, 31, and PFC Alpasain Ahamil Ikan, 32, both from the Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion, were conversing with the other fatality, Rosalie Brillantes, and several other civilians friends inside a nipa hut in Barangay (village) San Vicente when around six armed NPA rebels open fired at them.
The suspects fled on foot towards the mountainous part of the nearby village of Villa Tañada.
Albacea said the soldiers were unarmed.
“They were just talking with local villagers when they were shot,” he said over the phone.
Albacea said the volleys of gunfire hit the soldiers and Brillantes in different parts of their bodies. The three were rushed to the Gumaca district hospital but were all declared dead on arrival by medical authorities.
Recovered from the crime scene were 25 empty shells from still unknown firearms and 10 shell casings from Cal .45 pistol.
Parayno said government forces in the province are ready to repel attempts by NPA rebels to regain their former strongholds.
He disclosed that the local NPA rebels had been attempting to reclaim their lost ground with the help of comrades from Bicol and other parts of Southern Tagalog regions.
“But they always fail due to the active supports of the citizens to the government peacekeeping efforts,” he said.
Parayno attributed the rebels’ diminishing force and influence to the waning support from their former mass base especially in remote areas.
“The NPA could no longer stay in one place for a longer period. Their presence was immediately tipped off by the villagers to the nearest police and military detachment,” the Army official said.
Parayno earlier said the remaining ragtag band of NPA rebels in the province is now down to 23 armed guerrillas. The rebels in Quezon are losing ground due to mass surrenders and continues military operation, he added.
Last August, 26 former NPA guerrillas in the province surrendered to the government. Another batch of more than 20 NPA rebels has also recently surrendered to the military and local government officials from different parts of the province.
Parayno said the rebel returnees are now in the process of being included into the government social integration program.
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