LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 24 (PNA) —- The five suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, who surrendered on Thursday afternoon to the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Battalion in Barangay Bacolod, Milagros town in Masbate have been identified, an Army official said Friday.
Maj. Virgilio Perez, spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM), said the NPA rebels who yielded five service firearms--M14, M16, M1 carbine, .45-caliber and.38 cal. handguns, were identified by their "nom de guerre" or aliases--“Ka Aris,” “Ka Bunso,” both vice squad leaders; “Ka Jason;” “Ka Gina,” a finance officer; and “Ka Pogs.”
“The rebel surrenderees, who are undergoing debriefing, are all Masbate natives and members of an NPA guerrilla front under the regional party committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines,” said Perez.
He said the guerrilla front is operating in the northern part of Masbate covering the towns of Aroroy, Baleno, Balud, Mandaon and Claveria.
Perez said the returnees can avail of financial assistance through the “Comprehensive Local Integration Program” for rebel returnees.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Manolito Orense, 9th Infantry Division commanding general based in Pili, Camarines Sur, recently visited the headquarters of the 2nd IB to commend the troops for their successful combat operations in Barangay Pangle in Aroroy, Masbate on February 13 that resulted in the death of four NPA rebels.
The clash between government troops and rebels occurred shortly after President Duterte declared an all-out war against the NPA after lifting of the ceasefire agreements between the communist rebels and government forces early this month.
Orense gave commendations to the troops from the Scout Team and elements from the Alpha Company of the 2nd IB led by 1st Lt. April John del Rosario.
During the clash at 6:30 a.m., the platoon of Army soldiers engaged a 20-man group of NPA guerrillas in a 20-minute firefight. Recovered from the encounter scene were two M14 rifles, two M16 rifles and an M230 grenade rifle.
The slain rebels were identified as Luis Gonzaga, alias "Jaypee," commanding officer of the section platoon of a north guerrilla front in Masbate; Marjun Malahico alias “Erwin," vice commanding officer; Raymart Rapsing alias "Gerome/Ruben," political officer and head of NPA education committee; and Abnito Tugbo alias "Mark/Frank," an NPA member.
Perez said remains of the rebels were claimed by their relatives last February 14.
Gonzaga's body was claimed by his mother Nelita Gonzaga of Barangay Cawayan Interior in Masbate City; Malachico's by relatives from Barangay San Antonio in Milagros town; Tugbo's by a sister from Barangay Cajonday in Baleno, Masbate; and Rapsing's remains by Edgardo Ena of Barangay Igang also in Masbate City. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/AT/CBD