Suawan ‘training ground’ for NPA rebels? Army thinks so

THE MILITARY yesterday said Barangay Suawan of Marilog District, where a recent clash between troops of the 3rd Infantry Battalion and the New People’s Army occurred, might possibly be used as training ground for communist rebels.

Speaking in yesterday’s AFP-PNP press conference held at Royal Mandaya hotel, Lt. Col. Raymund Dante Lachica, commander of 3rd IB, said they already cleared the area before of the presence of the rebels, but the group seems bent on taking it back.

“From the recovered items, it is a clear indication that they are conducting training or there was previous training,” he said. “It’s also indicated in the recovered documents and there were gadgets and paraphernalia found in the area.”

Troopers encountered rebels under alias Ka Aldrin of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee on Saturday around 5:30 p.m.  They were patrolling the area when they chanced upon around 30 fully armed men at Sitio Bia-ong.

While conducting clearing operation at the encounter site, soldiers recovered 15 backpacks, 10 blasting caps, meters electrical wires, a magazine for M16 rifle, two pieces magazines of AK47 rifle, 50 rounds of assorted live ammunitions and subversive documents.

Around 800 families left the area following the encounter, but they have since moved back into their homes.

Lachica said they are still monitoring the whereabouts of the group after they dispersed and “merged with the communities in the area.”

He also claimed receiving reports from residents about two rebels killed and eight wounded who were all brought somewhere in Arakan, North Cotabato. “Right now we are trying to get their identification,” he said.

He also said that the evacuation in the area is a way to divert their  attention  to focus on the evacuees instead of the military operations.

Meanwhile, Lachica said the NPA must be taking advantage of the evacuation of residents to confuse the chasing soldiers and make their escape. He said there were evacuees from Barangay Salaysay when there was no recorded skirmish there. People were told to go back but were prevented by the barangay captain who told them there were soldiers in his area.

“He (barangay captain) may be pressured by the other side to shift our focus on evacuation instead of operation,” he said.

my’s 3rd Infantry Battalion recovered on Sunday  a body of a man, believed to be a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), while conducting clearing operation at the encounter site in Barangay Suawan, Marilog District.

Meanwhile, the 800 families who reportedly evacuated after the encounter already went back to their homes.

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