PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 27— The Western Command (WESCOM) here has stepped up focused military operations in southern Palawan as it recorded late Wednesday afternoon its third encounter in a week with armed New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.
The encounter happened around 4:00 p.m. between Barangay Malihud, Bataraza and Barangay Culasian, Rizal towns, confirmed Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4) commanding officer Lt. Col. Danilo Facundo.
The Marine troops led by 1Lt. Geovanni Bangoy engaged the NPA insurgents in an hour-long encounter.
“The encounter this time was longer… around an hour,” Facundo said Wednesday afternoon, and added that bloodstains, contrived shotguns, and a mobile phone were found in the clash site.
The NPAs are said to be trying to escape the military’s blockading troops towards Rizal, used to be known as Tarumpitao Point and was part of the municipality of Quezon.
The NPAs are reportedly led by their Palawan frontrunner, identified only as “Ka Allan.”
“They have injured members based on the bloodstains discovered by our troops. We can’t ascertain how many, but there were bloodstains in the area,” he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.
Military forces and the NPA first clashed on July 21 at Sitio Kambingan, Malihud. The second encounter happened on July 23, also in the same barangay but in the area of Sitio Ilyan.
Wednesday’s clash brought to three the number of encounters between the military and the communist-terrorist group in Southern Palawan in a week.
Meanwhile, in a July 25 website post, Salvador Luminoso, spokesperson of the NPA’s Bienvenido Vallever Command (BVC), confirmed the July 21 encounter between the military and their force in Malihud.
Luminoso said the military forces attacked their members while in the process of consulting with residents of the said barangay.
Two major campgrounds of the NPA have been captured by WESCOM in southern Palawan.
In northern Palawan, a suspected NPA couple was arrested on July 24 in Barangay Tinintinan, Araceli by operatives of the Municipal Police Station, according to Palawan Police Provincial Office Director Senior Supt. Gabriel Lopez.
Suspected militants Carlito and Elizabeth Labajo were the first to be arrested in Palawan since President Rodrigo Duterte announced the end of peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF. (Celeste Anna R. Formoso/PNA)