Soldiers foil communist rebels’ attempt to regain bases in Aurora, Nueva Vizcaya

FIVE people were burned in a commuter van that collided with a dump truck and caught fire on a highway in Barangay Luhong in Antipas, Cotabato. — PHILIPPINE STAR/JOHN FELIX M. UNSON

BAGUIO CITY — An attempt by communist guerrillas to recover their lost rebel bases and mass support in villages along the borders of Aurora and Nueva Vizcaya provinces in northern Luzon was foiled by government forces.

Following a tip-off from residents, soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 91st Infantry Battalion supported by the Tactical Control Unit from the Philippine Army’s 84th Infantry Battalion reportedly fought with remnants of the rebels last Friday in Barangay Galintuja, Maria Aurora, in Aurora province.

Major General Andrew D. Costelo, commander of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division said, communist rebels were attempting to recover in the boundary Barangays of Maria Aurora and Nueva Vizcaya when the tip off was received.

Acting swiftly on the information, soldiers led by 2Lt. Karl Angelou A. Buquida engaged the rebels in a 30-minute gunbattle sending the outmaneuvered rebels scampering away.

No one was reported hurt from the government side while Costelo said they believed rebels suffered casualties though could still not account for it.

After the gunbattle, two short magazines of M16 rifle, 24 rounds of ammunition for M203 grenade launcher, 143 rounds of M16 ammunition, 110 rounds of ammunition for M14 rifle, 1 pair of rifle handguard, a rifle dust cover of M16 were seized at the encounter site including personal belongings, medical items, and rebel documents.

Mr. Costelo believed the rebels are trying to regain support from the populace through extortion and exploitation, but they were tipped off signifying “the community’s rejection of their deceptive tactics.” — Artemio A. Dumlao