Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rebel, soldier killed in clashes in South RP

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / November 11, 2009) – A communist rebel and soldier were killed in separate clashes in the volatile region of the southern Philippines, officials said Wednesday.

The fighting erupted in the town of Maragusan in Compostela Valley after patrolling soldiers encountered a group of New People’s Army rebels in the village of Bahi on Wednesday.

A rebel who was wounded in the clash died before soldiers could bring him to a military hospital. A government soldier was also wounded in the fighting and three other insurgents captured, said an army brigade commander, Colonel Romeo Calizo.

“We commiserate with the family of our brother who was lured into believing a lost cause. It is unfortunate that we have to face such misery when we can live together peacefully if these armed groups will just realize the damage they are doing to our country and lay down their arms in the spirit of reconciliation,” he said.

The military said a government soldier was also killed in a failed rescue late Tuesday of an infantryman being held by rebels in Monkayo town also in Compostela Valley.

It said Private Joel Quijano was killed while troops were trying to rescue Corporal Dominador Alegre. The soldier was captured last week after rebels raided an army post in Monkayo town.

Alegre is a detachment commander of the 72nd Infantry Battalion deployed in the province to fight the rebels.

A rebel spokesman, Simon Santiago, said Alegre is facing an investigation by an NPA court for possible human rights violations. He said the rescue operation could endanger the soldier’s life.

“The 10th Infantry Division is actively opposing and closing the door to the possibility of an early, safe and orderly release of the prisoner of war and instead insist on endangering the security of Corporal Alegre by launching military operations,” Santiago said.

The military the rebels are also holding another soldier, Sergeant Frederick Gayla who was captured in 2007 in Davao province.

Rebels have previously released captured soldiers and policemen in Mindanao after their families appealed for their freedom.

In April, communist rebels also abducted Private First Class Ronnie Trinidad, who belongs to the 66th Infantry Battalion, in the village of Pagsabangan in Compostela Valley’s New Bataan town.

NPA rebels freed early this year a captured Special Forces commander, First Lieutenant Vicente Cammayo, after holding him as prisoner of war for two months also in Compostela Valley.

Last year, the rebels also released a policeman Eduardo Tumol, who was seized November 5 at a checkpoint in the village of Baogo in Davao Oriental's Caraga town.

The NPA is the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines, which broke off peace talks with Manila in 2004 after both sides failed to sign an agreement to end more than four decades of bloody fighting. (Mindanao Examiner)

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