New People’s Army rebels set off a roadside bomb at a military convoy Tuesday, wounding seven army soldiers shortly after an encounter in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte the military described as a violation of International Humanitarian Law.
Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the NPA violated the provision of the IHL relating to the use of anti-personnel mines during hostilities.
“NPA terrorists have again violated International Humanitarian Law by using landmines that cause severe damage to a person and may decapitate his body,” Villanueva said.
Troops from the 23rd Infantry Battalion were heading back to their barracks preceding an encounter with NPA rebels at Sitio Afga, Brgy Lower Olave, Buenavista town when NPA rebels detonated a landmine on their path.
Reports said the landmine exploded few minutes after troops and the NPAs from Alias Yolly from Guerrillas Front Committee 4A of Northern Central Mindanao Regional Command figured in a clash, wounding seven soldiers.
Villanueva said the seven soldiers suffered minor bruises from shrapnel and were immediately evacuated to a nearest medical facility.
But Villanueva said such incident “will not shake our will to fight. In fact, it will push our troops to exert more effort.”
He said the encounter occurred after a tip-off from individuals regarding the presence of NPAs in their area, prompting the 23rd IB “to launch combat operations,” said Lt. Col. Francisco Molina Jr., Commanding Officer of the 23rd IB.
Prior to the incident, troops encountered the same NPA terrorist group of Alias Yolly in Sitio Bulak of the barangay and municipality.
The firefight lasted for 30 minutes with more or less 15 members of GF4A.
After the encounter, troops found an NPA terrorist dead with his M4 rifle.
It was identified by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines—Northern Mindanao Region as Rex Hangadon, 23 years old, and a Lumad farmer.
Villanueva said: “Yes, unfortunately, the dead body (sic) was a Lumad and was identified by former rebels as Alias Ipit. On the other hand, operating troops were able to recover the following during scouring the encounter site: Four cellphones; seven SIM Cards; two memory cards with NPA pictures and videos; one short mag of M16 with 18 live ammos; subversive CNTs documents; and one small solar panel.”
“Currently, forensics people are inspecting the recovered cellphones and sim cards,” Molina added.
He said the 4th Infantry Diamond Division was saddened that there were Lumads who were “continuously deceived and recruited by the NPA terrorists to believe in their failed ideology.”