Army killed in NPA clash

Jonathan Llanes

A SOLDIER from the 50th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army is the latest casualty after a skirmish between the New People's Army on March 11 at Sitio Gisang, Poblacion Balbalan, Kalinga.

Private 1st Class Samuel Neri expired at the Kalinga Provincial District Hospital hours after being extracted from the encounter area due to multiple wounds sustained from a rifle grenade which hit the advance command post of the Philippine Army.

In a report by Kalinga Provincial Police Director Police Senior Superintendent Alfredo Dangani, the attack on the command post occurred while the soldiers were conducting a community support program in the area.

Brigadier General Leopoldo Imbang, commanding general of the 503rd Brigade, 5th Infantry Division who was guest of honor during the donning of ranks to newly promoted personnel of the Police Regional Office – Cordillera clarified the area was not a detachment as earlier reported.

"Skirmishes occurred between the government troops and the terrorists rebels who would not want the presence of the army in their area of operation. Things like this unfortunately happen resulting in government having a casualty, but we will undergo with the procedures for the benefit of the family of our slain soldier," Imbang said.

The skirmish lasted around 25 minutes, where at least 25 members of the rebel groups engaged the government troops before fleeing to different directions.

"We do not want things like this to happen. We are here to protect our countrymen and their community, and we are not here do any harm to our countrymen," Imbang added.