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Masbate Rebels Suffer Double Whammy in Sorsogon Encounter

FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City (Nov. 30, 2011) - Rebels who fled the relentless pursuit operations of the Army in the province of Masbate suffered another humiliating defeat in the hands of government forces in Sorsogon, a military official said.

Lt. Col Teody Toribio, Commanding Officer of the 31st IB stationed in Juban town in Sorsogon said that his unit dealt a decisive blow against the Masbate-based rebels during an encounter at about 2:00pm yesterday, Nov 29, which yielded 8 high-powered rifles.

He said that he sent a nine-man squad of soldiers together with some PNP officers to check on a report that an abandoned white maritime vessel was reportedly aground the coastal waters of Brgy Poblacion Norte in Barcelona, Sorsogon early in the morning yesterday.

“A tipster saw armed men disembark the vessel early in the morning of Nov 29. This information was also validated by another villager who claimed to have seen the rebels boarding a motorcycle towards Juban town,” said Toribio.

Two of the rifles, a 12-gauge shotgun and an M1 Carbine rifle was discovered inside the abandoned fishing vessel which ran aground in the sandbar.

The group of soldiers who scoured the vicinity, were fired upon by the rebels who were hiding behind the thick mangrove trees. A 15-minute firefight ensued after which the rebels escaped with their casualties.

“They mingled with the civilian fishermen who were also near the vicinity prompting my soldiers to hold their fire to prevent collateral damage,” added Toribio.

The soldiers confiscated 6 more highpowered firearms including five (5) m16 rifles and one (1) cal.30 M1 Garand rifle who were left behind by the fleeing rebels.The soldiers also recovered various types of  ammunition, subversive documents and personal belongings.

Army Corporal Jeffrey N Balajadia, the squad leader, said that during the inspection, they found that the markings MAS15.0002.BA indicating that the vessel was registered in Masbate.

Col Felix Castro, 903rd Brigade Commander, who has operational jurisdiction in the provinces of Sorsogon and Masbate, directed 31is IB for pursuit operations against the NPA rebels. He also confirmed that the rebels belong to a group of communist rebels operating in Masbate.

“The recovered subversive documents indicated that the rebels who figured in this firefight came all the way from Masbate province. They suffered heavily in the recent clashes with the 9th Infantry Battalion in that area, forcing them to flee towards mainland Bicol which is accessible by boat,” said Castro.

Castro also emphasized that the encounter is a perfect example of Oplan Bayanihan at work. He lauded the PNP and the civilians who provided the timely information regarding the rebels’ presence.

“Our healthy relationships with the various stakeholders in the province combined with our “Bayanihan” efforts in Sorsogon paid off leading to this accomplishment.” concluded Castro. (Harold Cabunoc)