By DPAO, 8ID PA
December 25, 2020
CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan CIty – In a series of encounters this week, the government troops repelled Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) who were planning to sow chaos during the Christmas celebration in Northern Samar.
A high-ranking New People's Army (NPA) terrorist leader was killed while another wounded NPA was arrested during the five successive encounters. Several high and low-powered firearms, ammunition, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), claymore mine, and grenades were also seized.
The first encounter between the troops of the 43rd Infantry Battalion and a group of CNTs occurred in Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro, in the morning of December 21, 2020.
The 30-minute gunfight resulted in the death of a certain Jerry Lutao, alias 'Apple', Secretary of Front Committee 2, Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) Emporium, Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC) whose body was left behind by the retreating comrades.
The troops also overran the CNT’s lair and successfully seized one M16, M4, M4KG, .38 revolver, magazines, two rifle grenades, a hand grenade, four IEDs, claymore mine, bomb triggering devices, backpacks, cellphones, generator sets, medical supplies, NPA flag, and subversive documents.
In the morning of December 22, 2020, while on pursuit operation, the troops of the 43rd IB encountered six CNTs at the vicinity of Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro.
No casualty on the government side while an undetermined casualty on the enemy's side was reported during the 10-minute firefight.
Five hours after the morning encounter, troops of 43rd IB clashed with the same group of CNTs at the vicinity of Sitio Agsam, Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro. Seized during the encounter were two shotguns, one caliber .38 revolver with ammunition, one magazine of .45 pistol loaded with 7 rounds of ammunition, cellphones, and backpacks.
The fourth encounter transpired at dawn of December 23, 2020, at the vicinity of Km 14, Barangay Happy Valley of the same town. One Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) was wounded and troops immediately gave him first aid. He was identified as Jonas Dela Torre alias Jonel, 36, years old, Team Leader of Squad Uno, Front Committee 2. Troops were able to recover Dela Torres's AK47 rifle.
The last encounter happened hours before Christmas Eve when troops from 43rd IB engaged in a 15-minute gunfight with three CNTs still at Barangay Happy Valley, San Isidro, Northern Samar.
There were no reported casualties on the government side while there are heavy casualties on CNT’s side as indicated by bloodstains at enemy’s route of withdrawal.
Recovered at the encounter site were two M16 rifles, magazines, ammunition, and one improvised hand grenade. Troops are still on pursuit operation.
According to 43rdIB Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Raymundo C Picut Jr, all their military intelligence are closely monitoring the activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines New People's Army (CPP-NPA) this holiday season as it planned to really conduct atrocities in the Province.
"Maliban sa panggugulo ngayong kapaskuhan sa mga remote at vulnerable areas ay magsasagawa rin sila ng mga tactical offensives sa mga military detachments at police stations lalo na ngayong nalalapit na rin ang ika-52 anibersaryo ng CPP-NPA,” Picut said.
Because of the dwindling ranks of the NPA, 8th Infantry Division Commander Major General Pio Q Diñoso III said, it is unlikely for the Communist Terrorists to hold a large meeting during CPP's founding anniversary on December 26.
He assured the people of Eastern Visayas that troops will be guarding communities to ensure a meaningful and peaceful Christmas celebration.
"Bilib at hanga ako sa lakas at determinasyon ng ating mga tropa. Gamit ang ating makabagong technology, military assets kasama ang ating K9 team at mga pursigidong sundalo at sa tulong ng mga residente, hindi natin titigilan ang pagtugis sa mga teroristang NPA hanggang sa magapi natin sila. Maliban na lamang kung mapag-pasyahan na nilang sumuko para maibalik natin sila ng buhay sa kanilang mga pamilya." Major General Diñoso added.