By Jorge Hallare
LEGAZPI CITY --- A suspected member of the New People’s Army was killed in a failed attempt by some 40 communist guerrillas to overrun a patrol base of the 22nd Infantry Battalion in Barangay Abella in Ligao City, Albay on Monday, a belated report that reached the headquarters of the 9th Infantry Division in Pili, Camarines Sur on Tuesday said.
Capt. Randy Llunar, chief of Public Affairs Unit of the 9th ID, said the NPA rebels pounced on the Abella base at past 1:00 a.m. on Monday that resulted in a firefight that lasted nearly an hour between the government troops and the rebels.
“After an intense trading of fire by the two sides the rebels fled to the hinterland portion of the village, bringing with them many of their wounded companions,” he said.
Lunar, however, said the rebels left behind their dead comrade as they fled.
“The NPA rebel killed was identified as Michael B. Abonin, 27, a resident of Zone 5, Barangay Veneracion in Pamplona, Camarines Sur, who was said to have worked as a construction worker,” he said.
Lunar said the residents had told the government troopers about the wounded that were brought to safety by the rebels.
“The Army troopers recovered two firearms, an M16 Armalite rifle and an M653 baby Armalite, in an ensuing clearing operation,” he said.
The troopers also recovered three improvised explosive devices or IED, one bandolier and three backpacks.
Lunar said the attack at the Abella base closely followed an attack at an Army detachment in Barangay Cuyaoyao in Pio Duran, Albay at 12:55 p.m. wherein the exchange of gunfire lasted for around five minutes.
Lunar said the Army troopers were able to defend their patrol base and detachment after being alerted by intelligence operatives about the planned successive attacks by the rebels.
He admitted the ranks of the rebels have increased but said that these were not enough for the launching of encounters against government troops.
“This is why the rebels had instead resorted to attacking the small detachments and patrol base,” he added.
Lunar said the communist rebels’ attacks were designed to coincide with the war in Marawi to show that they could still muster the strength against government forces.
He said aside from these attacks, the rebels had also been putting on a test mission new recruits to liquidate suspected assets of the military and police.
Despite this, Maj. Gen. Manolito Orense, commanding officer of the 9th ID, assured the Bicolano people that the soldiers in the countryside are ready to protect them so they could have a peaceful and improved life.