SEIZED WAR MATERIEL. Two improvised explosive devices, a high-powered firearm, and ammunition seized by troopers of the 30th Infantry Battalion after a 30-minute skirmish with communist New People’s Army rebels Tuesday (June 14, 2022) in San Francisco municipality, Surigao del Norte province. The encounter broke out after villagers reported the presence of the NPA rebels in the area. (Photo courtesy of 30IB)

BUTUAN CITY – Government forces have recovered war matériel following a clash with New People’s Army guerrillas in the Surigao del Norte town of San Francisco, the military said Wednesday.

The Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion (IB) said government troops responded to a civilian report on the presence of an undetermined number of NPA rebels harassing the residents of remote Sitio Tigbao, Barangay Balite, Tuesday.

“As our troops were approaching Sitio Tigbao, the rebels opened fire that resulted in a 30-minute gunfight,” the 30IB said in a statement Wednesday.

Intelligence reports said the insurgents belong to the NPA's Guerrilla Front 16, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee, led by a certain Pablo Logatiman.

The Philippine Air Force also sent two 520MG attack helicopters in the area that provided airpower support to the 30IB ground troops, 30IB said, adding the rebels immediately fled in different directions after the firefight.

“No government trooper was hurt during the encounter,” it added.

Government forces recovered from the encounter site an M16 rifle, two improvised explosive devices, nine pieces of batteries, one electrical tester, two rolls of electric wire, two poncho tents, and other belongings.

According to the 30IB, the Army unit has been conducting its Community Support Program (CSP) in Barangay Balite since January 24 this year.

Through the CSP, the 30IB said the residents in Barangay Balite withdrew their support from the NPA and pledged allegiance to the government.

Lt. Col. Ryen Charles Callanta, 30IB commander, urged the remaining NPA rebels in the area to surrender and reunite with their families.

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