Friday, 27 April 2012 00:00Written by VICTOR REYES
THE military yesterday vowed to avenge the death of 11 soldiers, including an officer, in an ambush staged by the New People’s Army Wednesday in Ifugao.
Forces from the 86th Infantry Battalion are pursuing the rebels who ambushed their colleagues in Gamhung village, Tinoc town.
“We will make sure that the perpetrators will be brought to justice,” said Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, AFP spokesman.
“Maj. Gen. Rommel Gomez, commander of the 5th Infantry Division, has directed ground troops to establish armed contact with the perpetrators and exact justice, said the division’s spokesman, Col. Miguel Puyao.
He said Gomez has also convened a Board of Inquiry that will look into the incident, including possible lapses. The BOI will be headed by Col. Rey Labanin, deputy commander of the 502nd Brigade.
Burgos said the board would determine “what really transpired…what are the shortcomings.”
“Whenever we go on troop movement, particularly on military convoy, we make sure that we have the necessary preparations in terms of making sure that our path are clean and subjected to patrol,” he said.
The NPA rebels, numbering 30 to 50, opened fire at a convoy of three trucks carrying the 86th IB soldiers, including battalion commander Lt. Col. Eugene Batara. The soldiers just came from a command turnover in Tinoc town and were on their way back to headquarters in Kiangan town.
The fatalities included the battalion’s operations officer, Capt. Siegfred Kafilas. The 10 others were enlisted personnel. A 12th fatality is a civilian who was a member of a band that performed at change of command ceremony.
The incident is the biggest blow so far this year to the military.
In October last year, 19 Special Forces officers and men were killed in a firefight with Abu Sayyaf and Moro Islamic Liberation Front members in Basilan.
In Davao del Sur Wednesday, four NPA rebels and a government militiaman were killed as government forces repulsed rebel attack of an Army detachment in Magsaysay town.
Lt. Col. Lydon Paniza, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said about 30 rebels, aboard a commandeered truck swooped down on the detachment of the 27th Infantry Battalion in Bacungan village around 1:45 p.m.
Eight militiamen engaged the NPA group in a firefight for about 45 minutes until the rebels withdrew, he said.
Eight other militiamen were on duty at that time but were away conducting security patrols for the barangay fiesta.
“We have been working on such scenarios. The enemy usually exploits such situations. During an activity like this (fiesta), our troops are on alert at the detachments because based on our experience…they (rebels) take advantage of such opportunity (in mounting attacks),” Paniza said.
The slain militaman was identified as Leonardo Cainget. Another militiaman, Dionato Obias, was wounded.
On the rebel side, Paniza said two rebel bodies were recovered after the fighting while the two others were carried by their fleeing comrades, citing information from the civilians.
“Initially, they carried four fatalities. Maybe because they are afraid that pursuing troops would catch up with them, they abandoned two of their dead. But they carried with them two others. I suspect that the two they took with them are ranking,” said Paniza.
He said the rebels took five civilians — Vicente Bunal, Jolly Paimalan, Elmer Entes, Rhyan Banua and Pablo Butay – as human shields but later released them.
He said the rebels also stole a horse, which they used in carrying their casualties.
Paniza said government troops were also able to recover an M14 rifle, a shotgun, a fragmentation grenade, assorted ammunition and 20 backpacks.