LEGAZPI CITY – A suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebel died in a clash with government troops in a remote village of Aroroy, Masbate on Monday.
In a statement on Tuesday, Capt. John Paul Belleza, Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division Public Affairs chief, identified the slain rebel as Roberto Emaas alias Obet, of the communist guerilla front operating in the province.
He said government troops were conducting an internal security operation in Barangay Balete when they encountered a group of NPA rebels. A 15-minute firefight ensued that led to the death of the rebel.
Belleza said two anti-personnel mines, one bandolier with two long steel magazines loaded with ammunition were recovered after the clash.
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB), said Emaas was trying to flee together with other wounded communist terrorist group (CTG) members but was left behind by his comrades and eventually died.
"Emaas has long been terrorizing the residents of Barangay Balete and neighboring areas. He also extorts small-scale miners, businessmen, and the local populace to finance the unlawful activities of the CTG," he said.
Meanwhile, Col. Aldwine Almase, commander of 903rd Infantry Brigade, said the recovery of anti-personnel mines only proves the CTG's continuous manufacture of explosives prohibited by the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and which have claimed numerous lives in the country including those of football player Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven.
"Our relentless operations aim to completely disintegrate the CTG and stop them from killing innocent civilians. Hindi natin hahayaan ang teroristang grupong ito na magpatuloy sa paghahasik ng karahasan (We won't allow this terrorist group to continue with its violence)," Almase added.
Maj. Gen. Henry Robinson Jr., commander of Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB), emphasized that the consistent operations of the Army and Philippine National Police are fueled by the loud cry of the Masbateños for justice.
"This accomplishment is another manifestation of our unyielding fight against these communist terrorists. We will make sure that the lives of the people who perished because of the CTG's evil acts will not be in vain. We will not allow them to destroy the future of the youth just like what they did to FEU's (Far Eastern University) ace player, Kieth Absalon," Robinson said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)