Soldiers clashed with more or less 20 New People’s Army rebels in barangay Kabalantian, Arakan, North Cotabato on at 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday.
They also recovered two grenades, assorted ammo, some parts of an M16 rifle, foodstuff, rifle magazines, and an anti-personnel mine at the encounter site.
Capt. Jerry Lamosao, the spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, said the firefight transpired after residents of the area informed the troops about the presence of the NPA members.
He said the continued use of anti-personnel mine by the NPAs is a clear violation of the Mine Ban Treaty.
In the Comprehensive Agreement to Respect Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, both the Philippine government and the NPA commit to protect the civilians by not violating the “right not to be subjected to… the use of landmines.”
Lt. Col. Benjamin Dao-on, commander of the 19th IB, said they will continue their focus military operations to ensure the safety of the people of North Cotabato from the threats of the NPA.
“I am thankful for the cooperation we received from the community, which I hope to continue as we work together in pushing a conflict-resilient community,” he said.
Col. Gabriel C. Viray III, commander of the 901st Infantry Brigade, said the government is always open to accepting surrenders from the NPA. Rebel returnees can take advantage of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), which covers livelihood and financial assistance for an easier transition to a normal life.
“The government forces are tasked to continuously fight anyone who will endanger the safety and security of the Filipino people,” Viray said.