By PAOLA ESPIRITU
VIGAN CITY — Guerrillas of the New People’s Army operating in Ilocos Sur attacked the headquarters of the 81st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in Barangay Bugbuga, Sta. Cruz town on the evening of August 9.
In a statement written in Ilokano and dated August 10, the Alfredo Cesar, Jr. Command – NPA Ilocos Sur claimed the attack resulted in the death of a military official and the wounding of a certain Pfc. Alvez. The rebels said both were on board their Toyota service vehicle when the shooting commenced.
Rebel leader Saniata Maglaya said the attack is a punishment for the army unit’s attacks against civilians they encounter during combat operations.
She added that members of the 81st IB continue to vilify, intimidate and threaten residents in areas where the government troops conduct their “community support program”.
Maglaya also claimed their offensive is a warning to the military who serve as guards for the hydropower dam project in the town of Salcedo.
In a radio interview a few days after the attack, Major Amado Gutierrez, spokesperson of the 81st IB said the attackers positioned themselves in front and at the back of the camp.
He said the assailants believe to be members of the KLG-South Ilocos Sur, first fired on the guard post, adding no one on their side were hurt during the 10 minutes firefight. However, he said, their officer’s quarters, administrative office and a vehicle were damaged.
The army major believed the attack intended to divert their attention away from their current combat operations in Mountain Province.
Meanwhile, the Antonio Licawen Command operating in the boundaries of Mountain Province, Abra, Ilocos Sur and Benguet, in a separate statement dated August 6, condemned the troops’ presence inside Sitio Dandanac, Tamboan, Besao in Mountain Province.
ALC spokesperson Salaknib Monteverde also criticized the arrest of brothers Edmond and Saturnino Dazon civilians from the said barangay.
She said the Alpha Company of the 81st IB under 1st. Lt. Jade Gavino has literally imposed “martial law”, instituting curfew and prohibiting residents to go to their farms.
Monteverde also claimed an army trooper died during an encounter between one of their units and the soldiers’ 71st and 73rd Division Reconnaissance Company. The battle happened in the forested area of Tabacda, Tubo, Abra. # nordis.net