MATANAO – Two members of the New People's Army (NPA) were killed, and one soldier hurt in a clash between the military and Communist rebels here on Monday.
Authorities were not able to identify the deceased, who died in an encounter with the 39th Infantry Battalion (IB) at Sitio Datal Pitak, Barangay Colonsabak, Matanao, Davao del Sur. Their bodies remained unclaimed by relatives as of this writing.
However, the two were known by their aliases “Jerome” and “June,” the military said.
Meanwhile, the injured soldier was identified as Cpl. Lovinder John Labantes. He was declared safe after treatment in Camp Panacan Hospital.
According to Lt. Col. Marion Angcao, commander of the 73rd Infantry Battalion (IB), they launched an offensive against the group because they allegedly burned a 10-wheeler truck carrying 524 sacks of rice on May 16 in Matanao.
The encounter between the rebels and government troops on Monday was the fourth since offensive operations were launched, Angcao said.
Another soldier, Private Axyll Demagnaong, was also reported injured in an encounter on May 27. He was also treated in Camp Panacan Hospital.
The 73rd IB identified the group as Guerilla Front 72, which government forces claimed was also behind the abduction and subsequent release of two members of the 39th Infantry Battalion earlier this year in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat.
Clashes between the military and the NPA continued after both parties held off ceasefire declarations prior to talks between the government and representatives of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines earlier this year.
Negotiations fell through over the weekend after the government and the communists failed to salvage the fifth round of talks. However, both parties said this was only a “temporary setback” to the road to peace.