A Philippine Army soldier was hit in the leg but survived a daytime aggression by suspected New People’s Army fighters yesterday in Sitio Katubahan, Barangay Tayak in Siaton town, Negros Oriental.
Lt. Col. Pio Diñoso III, commander of the 79th Infantry Battalion, said the attack, which he described as a “show of force” came hours after the seven-day suspension of military operations was lifted at midnight Monday.
The ceasefire was in effect February 15 to 21 amid peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front in Oslo, Norway. The NPA is the armed component of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front.
Diñoso said a team of soldiers deployed in the sub-village of Katubahan as peace and development workers were repairing a basketball court at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday when they were fired upon by about ten armed men positioned some 300 meters away, on a hilltop.
Pfc. Roilo Anadia sustained a bullet wound in his right leg. Fortunately, none of the civilians in the vicinity of the basketball court were hit by stray bullets fired by members of the NPA’s South East Front of the Komiteng Rehiyon Sentral Bisayas, Diñoso said.
“This treacherous and cowardly act only shows that the NPAs are against peace and development,” he added.
The soldiers were in Katubahan not as combatants but as peace and development workers under the government’s latest program, Oplan Bayanihan, to address the insurgency with a different approach, he said.
Katubahan in Tayak, Siaton town, and the villages of Mayabon and Calango in the adjacent municipality of Zamboanguita, were earlier identified as insurgency-affected areas and where soldiers are now deployed to foster better relations between the community and government.
Yesterday’s harassment confirms earlier reports of the NPA’s presence in Katubahan with the insurgents now feeling threatened by the deployment of soldiers in that sub-village, Diñoso said.*JFP
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