Government troops are in hot pursuit of a band of communist terrorists who had reportedly resorted to extortion and other criminal activities to support and strengthen their movement in Lopez, Quezon.
The suspects, who belong to New People’s Army (NPA) sub-regional military area 4-B, engaged the soldiers in a gun battle Friday morning in Barangay Villanacaob before fleeing in different directions.
Lt. Col. Arnold Gasalatan, commander of 85th Infantry Battalion, said the retreating suspects brought with them an undetermined number of wounded and slain comrades.
Gasalatan said the troops were conducting combat operation in the area when they received reports that the terrorists were extorting money and forcibly grabbing food and other supplies from residents of Barangay Villanacaob and other nearby areas.
This prompted the government soldiers to proceed to the area that resulted in a firefight between them and the terrorists.
Brig. Gen. Elias Escarcha, commander of the 201st Infantry Brigade, for his part, said the encounter effectively scuttled the initial plan of the terrorists to conduct atrocities in the area.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Marine Corps Foundation, a group dedicated to helping Marines who were wounded and killed during combat, was launched over the weekend.
Foundation chairman retired Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, said they will provide opportunities for the professional enhancement, facility and capability development of the members of the marine corps.
“All of these programs are designed to help the Corps in performing its mandate to the country and the Filipino people,” he added.
The launching of the foundation was one of the projects of the Philippine Marine Corps’ Board of Advisers which was first conceptualized last year.