1 soldier killed, 5 injured in ongoing clash with NPA in Cagayan

FIGHTING between the Philippine Army (PA) and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sto. Niño, Cagayan erupted anew yesterday resulting in the wounding of five government troopers, a radio station reported.

Police Senior Inspector Rogelio Catubag of the Sto. Niño police station said the latest clash lasted for an hour, according to Bombo Radyo-Tuguegarao.

Reportedly injured were Sgt. Antonio G. Abarriao Jr., Sgt. Johndick T. Padua, Cpl. Orly C. Camarao, PFC Recher M. Basyagon and one Villamor Bumussao.

The fighting first erupted last February 8 in Brgy. Balanni in the said municipality.

No casualty from the NPA has been reported.

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Consultant for Cagayan Valley Felix Randy Malayao said the 17th Infantry Battalion of the PA’s 5th Infantry Division based in Alcala, Cagayan launched an attack last February 8 against the Danilo Ben Command of the NPA in West Cagayan.

PA’s PFC Rowel Tabuada from Brgy. Naruangan, Tuao, Cagayan was killed in the initial clash.

At least 20 Agta and local peasants have evacuated due to the fighting, according to Malayao.

“PA’s attack was launched soon after Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced an all-out war against the NPA,” Malayao said.

“The fighting is on its fourth day and the 5th ID based in Gamu, Isabela may have sent reinforcements already,” Malayao said.

The NDFP Peace consultant called on President Rodrigo Duterte to stop his government’s all-out war against the NPA and resume formal talks with the NDFP.

“We should go back to the negotiating table and resolve the roots of the armed conflict. We fear the escalation of human rights violations from the state forces who are now emboldened by the president’s declaration,” Malayao said.

Bombo Radyo-Tuguegarao reporter Eliseo Collado also reported that the Danilo Ben Command of the NPA asked the Eliseo Collado to continue the peace talks despite the termination of the ceasefire declarations.

Commanders of the 17th IBPA however said it is improper to continue peace negotiations, Collado reported.  (Raymund B. Villanueva)