BALER, Aurora — A soldier was killed by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) at a checkpoint of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Sitio Boundary, Barangay Villa Aurora, Maria Aurora town on Monday afternoon.
Lt. Col. Jose Mari F. Torrenueva II, battalion commander of the 91st Infantry “Sinagtala” Battalion, Philippine Army, said the soldier was shot dead by the communist rebels at the joint Task Force Sagip Likas Yaman checkpoint as he was on his way to check flagship projects in their area of responsibility.
The victim was identified as Corporal Reynald Bonga, a native of Balimbang, Sultan Kudarat who belonged to the 91st Infantry Battalion.
“The troops, together with the PNP (Philippine National Police) in the area, were able to return fire, forcing the NPAs to withdraw to unknown directions,” Torrenueva said.
The NPA attack, according to him, was in retaliation for the government’s strict enforcement of the law against illegal logging and illegal timber poaching at the Sierra Madre Range in Aurora where the rebels collect revolutionary taxes.
Torrenueva also said the DENR checkpoint, along with the presence of the police and soldiers, deters trucks transporting illegally-sourced logs in the area where the government has banned the cutting of trees in the natural and residual forests for 25 years since Feb. 1, 2011.
“This incident only underscores the NPA’s clear disregard for human life. They endanger the lives of the innocent civilians just to attain their end of bleeding money from private companies. If they want to fight, let’s go to the battle ground where there are no civilians,” he said. Jason De Asis/PNA-northboundasia.com