Militiaman, NPA rebel killed in Kalinga encounter

BAGUIO CITY — The detachment commander of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Barangay Uma, Lubuagan, Kalinga was killed at dawn on Sunday, after a 15-minute exchange of fire between government forces and the New People’s Army.

“We have one casualty and three wounded CAFGU members,” said Supt. Pelita Tacio, Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCOR) Information Officer.

She said around 30 NPA rebels attacked the CAFGU patrol base in Uma, Lubuangan town around 4 a.m. on Dec. 23, leading to an exchange of fire and death of Cadre Sgt. Elon Bayang of Luplupa, Tinglayan town, Kalinga.

“The government troops defended the base but were overpowered and the base commander was killed,” Tacio said.

Based on information obtained by the Philippine News Agency (PNA), tribal members of Lower Uma took custody of Bayang’s body as part of their customary laws. The said tribe has a peace pact with Bayang’s tribe.

Tacio said one NPA fighter was also killed in the encounter. Sources identified the killed NPA member as Roy Tongdo alias “Ka Rex,” whose body was left by his comrades and is now at the barangay hall of Western Uma.

Based on the spot report of the Kalinga police obtained by the PNA, the wounded CAFGU members were Bal-iwang Gacayon, Julio Codiam, and Benedict Lingayo, who were transported to Kalinga Provincial Hospital for medical treatment.

Tacio said the NPAs were able to steal several firearms of the government forces before escaping.

Maj. Jefferson Somera, chief of the Fifth Infantry Division (5ID) Public Affairs Office (DPAO), said in a separate telephone interview the military is now pursuing the terrorists. “Ongoing po ang hot pursuit operation natin (Hot pursuit operation is ongoing) and we will not stop until we make them [NPA] responsible for the death of the base commander,” he said.

Somera said 5ID commander Maj. Gen. Perfecto Rimando had stated that the NPA attack just goes to show that the truce announced by the leftist army was insincere — perpetrating a crime that it said it would not do.

“They are celebrating their 50th anniversary by sowing terror in the community and causing disturbance, which is really a bad way of celebrating,” Somera said.

He added the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has actually been in full alert and has ordered all detachments to be on the watch, but the CAFGU patrol base in Lubuagan, Kalinga was just “overpowered” by the NPA attackers.

“Lumaban ang mga tropa natin (Our troops fought back and defended the camp) but unfortunately, they were overpowered. The base commander sacrificed his life to defend the base,” Somera lamented.

Somera asked the communities to report any sightings of NPA troops in their areas.

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