SARANGANI - Military units on Monday recovered the remains of a soldier slain last Friday after a series of encounters with members of the New People's Army (NPA) in Upper Suyan, Malapatan, Saragani.
The Army also rescued five soldiers wounded in the attacks that culminated in a landmine blast at the rebels' camp.
Lt. Col. Felix Ronnie Babac, commanding officer of 73rd Infantry Batallion (IB), said the tension started when the NPA allegedly harassed soldiers building the school donated by Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao on November 1.
The 73rd IB deployed troops in the area and clashed with rebels on Thursday and Friday.
The NPA withdrew Friday while soldiers raided their camp in the mountainous part of Lamsalo, Upper Suyan. Two landmines, however, detonated as the Army searched the NPA camp.
Private First Class Carlo Testado, 25, was killed in the blast. The explosion also wounded Privates First Class Asir Mangsan, Khalid Amboloto, Rene Samolde, Danilo Pacino and Corporal Glen Belasa.
A chopper on Saturday attempted to rescue the group but crashed while trying to land in Malapatan, Sarangani due to strong winds.
At least eight soldiers were injured in a chopper crash. The wounded soldiers are still being treated at a private hospital in General Santos City.
Unfavorable weather conditions delayed further rescue operations on Sunday. An added hurdle against the army is the eight hours of climbing needed to bring down Testado's remains from the mountain.
The Army was finally able to reach its troops in Malapatan on Monday morning. A fresh set of soldiers has substituted their comrades in the area.
Testado's kin is grieving his death especially since he is to be married next year. He has left behind his eight-month-old baby.
Despite the sorrow of the Testado family, they also declared pride for the slain soldier whom they consider a hero.
The remains of the soldier will be brought home to Libungan, North Cotabato.
The military will continue patrolling Malapatan and protect the construction of the local school. -- Report from Chai Tabunaway, ABS-CBN News
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