AFP: Soldier died in encounter near school by troops against NPA in Masbate



A soldier died while two others were wounded during an encounter with members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were seen near school areas in in Brgy Villahermosa, Cawayan, and Brgy Locso-on, in Placer, Masbate earlier this week.

In a statement, AFP Spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said that they were able to recover armaments and anti-personnel mines that could endanger people’s lives, including innocent civilians.

“The series of encounters with Communist-NPA-Terrorists on March 20 and 22 in Brgy Villahermosa, Cawayan, and Brgy Locso-on, Placer and a bombing incident in Barangay Gaid, Dimasalang resulted in the untimely but honorable death of Corporal Antonio Parreño Jr and the wounding of two (2) military personnel and two (2) policemen,” he said.

Aguilar said that they will continue to support the Department of Education in bringing about their mandate in teaching students.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines supports the mission of the Department of Education to protect the right of every Filipino to quality, equitable, culture-based, and complete basic education,” he said.

“In addition, our shared responsibility is to provide a secured environment free from intimidation, coercion, and possible recruitment by members of violent extremists from our schools and civilian communities,” he added.

Aguilar assured both the students, the parents and teachers and staff that they will ensure their safety.

“These incidents caused fear in the nearby schools and communities, hence the AFP’s commitment to protect the Filipino people even in the most challenging and life-threatening situations,” he said.

Earlier, videos circulated in social media where an encounter between state troops and communist rebels recorded to which scared school goers.

According to SOLCOM’s public information office the state troops proceeded to the said area after being given information of the presence of an armed group.

Upon approaching, the rebels then open fired at the soldiers resulting to the injury of two personnel.

According to the military, the “ensuing incidents were heard by the students and school personnel.”

“We regret that the students and school personnel experienced the horror of being almost near the encounter between the Communist Terrorists Group and our soldiers,” they said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education said that the rebel activities in Masbate have surged to “alarming rate.”

“These acts of terrorism perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA) have caused trauma to learners and school personnel, who witnessed the senseless violence,” they said.

But DepEd insisted that there will be “no blanket suspension of classes,” as their regional office in Bicol and school division office in Masbate have been tasked to ensure learning continuity.

Further, it noted that the peace and order situation, as well as the mental health of learners and school personnel, should be given consideration.

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on the other hand is expected to visit the affected areas in Masbate.

She is also conducting talks with the Army Division Commander.

“DepEd remains defiant against these fear-mongering tactics of terrorists as the agency commits to deliver basic education to all, even in disadvantaged areas,” the statement added.

Catherine R. Cueto

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