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2 soldiers, 1 rebel slain in Sorsogon encounter

SORSOGON CITY --- Two army troopers and a woman rebel were killed in a fierce gun battle between government forces and members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in a remote village of Daganas in Bulan, Sorsogon.

Killed in the firefight on July 30, 2020 were PFC Greyan Andus and Corporal Arnel Divinagracia of the Army's 22nd Infantry Battalion (IB) and an unidentified woman rebel, in a police report said.

Police investigation said that a composite team of the Philippine Army belonging to the 22nd IB, 31st IB, and 903rd Infantry Brigade was alerted of the presence of NPA rebels believed to be under the command of certain Rectro Golimlim alias Ka Cenon.

While maneuvering within the hilly terrain of the mountain, the government troops were hit by rebel gun fires killing Andus and Divinagracia in a clash before twilight.

The undetermined number of rebels fled after almost an hour of firefight, the police report said.

There was no reported casualty on the part of the NPA, but there were traces of blood in the direction where the rebels fled, an indication that there might be some wounded among the rebels, the police report said.

Recovered on the scene of the clash were an improvised explosive devise (IED) and one M60 sub-machine gun, the police report said.

But the military have different version of the incident.

Army Capt. John Paul Belleza, 9th Infantry Division (9ID) spokesperson, said that a woman rebel was killed in a 45-minute gunfight that broke-out between the government troops and the communist insurgents in Barangay Daganas, Bulan, Sorsogon, at around 5:28 PM on July 30.

He said that at least 40 members of NPA from the Komiteng Probinsya 3 of Bicol Regional Party Committee (BRPC) under Arnel Estiller aka Mando were encountered by the joint elements of 22nd Infantry Battalion (22IB) and 31st Infantry Battalion (31IB) while conducting security operations after receiving a tip-off from the residents about the presence of rebels in the area.

Killed during the firefight was an unidentified female rebel who was left behind by her comrades after the army troops overran the NPA hideout.

Recovered from the encounter site were M60 machine gun, M16 rifle, anti-personnel mine, cellphone, assorted ammunitions, roll of electric wire, propaganda materials ,and other personal belongings from the fleeing rebels.

The Army's 9ID did not include in their report the two soldiers who perished during the encounter, but when asked by members of the press about the two soldiers killed in the clash, Belleza admitted that there were indeed casualties on the government side.

MGen. Henry A. Robinson Jr., 9ID and Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) chief, ordered his troops to continue the extensive and intensified military operations to hunt down communist rebels.

He lauded the people who gave the information about the presence of the rebels.

"The encounter was another success on our part — the military and the Bicolano people. Your continuous support even by way of simple sharing of information about the presence of the terrorists, contributes a lot in our fight against insurgency. Our fight against this terrorist group will soon be over, as the enemy armed elements are now on continuous declining strength," Robinson said.

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