Butuan City – Belated reports indicated that a Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit, or CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA), of the Philippine Army was killed, while a police officer was wounded in the intensified week-long operation against suspected New People’s Army (NPA) positions at the hinterlands of Butuan City.
“A member of the CAA, namely Wilbert Moises, was severely wounded in his upper left thigh, which later led to his death after a platoon of Charlie Company of the 23rd Infantry Battalion clashed with en estimated 15 fully armed NPA rebels of the Guerilla Front 4A (GF 4A), North Central Mindanao Regional (NCMR) command,” said Captain Regie Go, Civil Military Operation Officer (CMO) of the 402-Brigade.
Go disclosed that the encounter took place near Lamosig Creek, Barangay Tungao in Butuan City at around 3:00 in the afternoon of October 25, 2017.
Go further belied an earlier claim of the NPA that the Philippine Air Force has conducted an aerial bombing run in the vicinity.
“Contrary to the NPA claim, what our air assets were doing was to provide close air support to our ground troops. These were directed at specific targets that we know are away from civilian communities. These were all calculated properly to ensure that there be no collateral damage,” he clarified.
Police Chief Inspector Renel E. Serrano, officer-in-charge of the public information office of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO13) also revealed that, a day after the army encounter, a police officer was wounded in another gun battle.
“PO1 Michael Escobio of the Regional Public Safety Battalion 13 (RPSB 13) was wounded in the leg after the 10-minute exchange of gunfire against elements of the NPA GF 4A of the NCMR at around 2:48 in the morning along Sitio Stanpoler, Barangay Manila de Bugabos. A separate team immediately extricated our wounded troop and he is now recovering from the wound,” said Serrano.
Serrano added that, “while the army is operating on the higher mountainous terrain, the RPSB teams are conducting their parallel pursuit operation at the lower ground, which is aimed at providing security to nearby communities and preventing the spillover of the conflict unto populated areas.”
Police Chief Superintendent Rolando B Felix, regional director of the PRO13 ordered the intensification of police checkpoints and law-enforcer presence in the area.
The pursuit operation against the NPA guerillas started on October 21, 2017 after the NPA torched PhP9 million worth of heavy construction equipment, including four backhoes, a pay loader and a dump truck at a quarry site in Purok 7, barangay Bonbon, Butuan City.
On October 23, 2017, a soldier was injured in barangay Nongnong while conducting a pursuit operation against the NPA guerillas.
Barangays Manila de Bugabos, Tungao and Nongnong are all adjacent hinterland barangays of Butuan City.