By ANTHONY VARGAS
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) beefed up insurgency operations in Oriental Mindoro province, following the deaths of 11 soldiers and the wounding of seven others in a violent clash with New People’s Army (NPA) rebels over the weekend.
Troops from the 23rd division reconnaissance company were on combat operations in Brgy. Panaytayan, Mansalay town in Oriental Mindoro Saturday, when they stumbled upon an NPA camp with an unknown number of rebels.
A three-hour long fierce gun-battle ensued on both sides that resulted into the killing of 11 soldiers including the platoon leader, 2nd Lieutenant Ronie Sipsip, and wounding of seven others.
Lt. General Roland Detabali, Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) chief, said pursuit operations against the NPA in Oriental Mindoro are well underway with more troops committed to run after the armed rebels.
“It has now become a brigade operations so there are now efforts from the 4th IB and the 80th Infantry Battalion and the 21st Division reconnaissance company, basically we are talking about 1,000 people,” Detabali said.
The Solcom chief added that a reconnaissance company of troops from Quezon province had also been dispatched to Oriental Mindoro as of last night.
Detabali said the 11 deaths count as the single biggest loss for the military in recent years, in the course of its more than three decade-engagement with the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the crushing of the CPP-NPA before she steps down from office on June 30.