LEGAZPI CITY – An unidentified New People's Army (NPA) member was killed while high-powered firearms were seized when government forces engaged armed rebels in a firefight in a remote village in Placer, Masbate on Monday.

In a report on Tuesday, the Masbate Provincial Police Office said the operating team was conducting combat operations when it came across members of the communist group which led to a 15-minute firefight and killing of one of the insurgents.

"Recovered at the encounter site were one unit M-16 rifle of the slain rebel including one bandolier with eight pieces of a steel magazine, improvised explosive device (IED), one unit caliber .45 pistol, several rounds of ammunitions, two hammocks and assorted terroristic propaganda materials," the report said.

The operating teams were from the Masbate 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company, Masbate Provincial Intelligence Unit, 502nd Maneuver Company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion, and Placer Municipal Police Station (MPS).

The report added that no one among the operating troops was hurt, killed or wounded during the encounter.

Meanwhile, a progress report of the Police Regional Office-Bicol (PRO-5) said one of the rebels who fled from the clash site was spotted by a concerned citizen.

"The suspect was seen roaming around the said place armed with an unknown caliber of a firearm and reported the same to Placer MPS," Lt. Col. Malu Calubaquib, PRO-5 spokesperson, said in a statement.

She said government troops immediately conducted a pursuit operation that resulted in the arrest of Rolly Aballe Jr., 23 and resident of Barangay Cabangrayan in Pio. V Corpus, Masbate.

Confiscated from his possession was one unit .38-caliber revolver without trademark and serial number, loaded with five rounds of live ammunition and two cellular phones with conversations with regard to the movement of the government troops.

"The suspect who is now under the custody of Placer police station will be charged for violation of Republic Act 10591 also known as “Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act”," Calubaquib said.

PRO-5 regional director Brig. Gen. Rudolph B. Dimas, commended the operating team for their unrelenting dedication and diligence to capture the fleeing NPA member. (PNA)