SEIZED. The anti-personnel mines, high-powered firearm and ammunition seized by the military after an armed encounter in Barangay Motorpool, Tubod, Surigao del Norte last Jan. 16, 2022. The encounter broke out after the troopers responded to a report from civilians on the presence of NPA rebels in the area. (Photo courtesy of 30IB)

BUTUAN CITY – The military seized several anti-personnel mines (APMs), a high-powered firearm and assorted ammunition after an armed encounter with communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels in the hinterlands of Barangay Motorpool, Tubod, Surigao del Norte on Sunday.

In a statement Monday, the Army's 30th Infantry Battalion (30IB) said troopers carried out security operations following reports of the presence of NPA rebels extorting and harassing the residents in the area.

"A 15-minute gunfight immediately ensued after our troops were fired by the rebels upon arriving in the area," the statement read.

The military said the rebels were reportedly headed by Alberto Castañeda alias JD and Roel Neniel alias Jacob of the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda 16C1 and 16C2, Guerrilla Front 16 of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

After the clash, the rebels withdrew in different directions, leaving at the encounter site two APMs with blasting caps, an AK-47 rifle, 182 pieces of AK-47 rifle ammunition, 376 pieces of M-16 rifle ammunition, one rifle grenade, five pieces of 40mm ammunition, six backpacks containing personal belongings, subversive documents, food and medicines.

In the same statement, Lt. Col. Ryan Charles Callanta, the commander of 30IB, lauded the residents for tipping the government forces vital information that resulted in the success of the operation.

“We are thankful to the residents for their continued support of our fight against terrorism,” Callanta said.

He urged the residents, especially those in the remote areas of Tubod town, to continue their trust in the government and the Army.

“We will continue to perform our duties and responsibilities especially during these times of difficulties caused by the continuing pandemic and the recent typhoon,” Callanta said.

Tubod was among the areas hit by Typhoon Odette in December last year.

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.

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the National Democratic Front as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)