PALAWAN– State troops and alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPAs) engaged in a firefight Friday morning in Bataraza, Palawan, yet another incident in a string of encounters that has suspended peace negotiations between government and communist rebels.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command said it first received information from residents about the presence of the rebel group in the vicinity of Barangay Malihud. It immediately dispatched troops from the Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 to verify the report.
When they arrived in the area, soldiers chanced upon armed men, leading to a firefight at around 10:40 a.m. The exchange continued until before noon.
When the fighting had ceased, troops discovered blood stains in the conflict area, indicating that some rebels may have been wounded.
None from the military was injured in the skirmish.
Authorities also recovered a bag containing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and ammunition where the firefight happened.
The Western Command believes the recovered IEDs were the same kind used in a bomb attack in Barangay Tarusan, Bataraza on Tuesday, where one marine was wounded.
Authorities also believe that the clash thwarted the rebels’ plan of conducting another roadside bombing that could have injured innocent civilians.
The Western Command also confirmed that it received information that the NPA is conducting simultaneous tactical offensives as a show of force before President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address on Monday.
Hot pursuit operations against the rebels are in progress.